An Unlikely Friend

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 NLT

I spent my lunch yesterday talking with Calvin, the bartender at the Sushi restaurant across the street from my office. Looking at us from the outside, one might consider us an unlikely pair of friends — he is a young, extremely tall, athletic black man wearing his waiter’s attire, and I am an older, very short, portly, white gentleman wearing dress pants and shirt with a sweater vest from The Masters. But here we were listening to hip hop music, talking about Rap City’s the Bassment “back in the day”, talking about bettering ourselves daily, and how important it is for us both to lead our families through avoiding some of our own mistakes and knowing that one big mistake isn’t “the end”. It is wonderful how much we truly have in common where it really matters!

I mention Calvin in reference to this verse because he is a father who genuinely loves his kids (you can see it in his eyes when he talks about them). And he wants them to not make foolish mistakes that will cost them their best life.

And this is God’s perspective on sin, my friend. Even with sin that is pleasurable to us for a season, He knows that it comes with a higher cost than anything it offers in return. He isn’t “arbitrarily making rules” to enforce upon his subjects so they will “obey Him” — like some harsh slave owner with an eager whip in hand watchful for an opportunity to use it. Choice comes with consequences — that is the very definition of choice — we choose and we get what we choose.

“Sin” is just a fancy, religious word for choosing what is not best — making a foolish decision. So the consequence of a life of “sin” is a “death” of things like opportunity and purpose. People will always argue amongst themselves over the list of “rules” — but “sin” isn’t just a checklist of 7 laws of Noah, or 10 commandments on stone, or 613 Levitical commandments.

And there is a contrast that happens as we begin to understand this free gift of God and as we get to know Jesus Christ (who is quite different from us, yet also like us) as a friend. His friendship, a closeness with Him, accepting His offer of a relationship (which we will do repeatedly not just once) is a free gift that will lead us and guide us away from the foolish decisions and into the wise decisions — away from costly consequences and into beneficial consequences — away from death and into fullest life.

And all that I’ve mentioned up to this point, even an atheist can understand and see the clear benefit upon cultures and societies of the core teachings and example of Jesus Christ, while they note the horrors and atrocities of wars and atrocities committed under the disguise of “religion”. We can see throughout history the wisdom of a community/nation full of people making wise choices versus the cost and foolishness of a community/nation full of people making foolish decisions. It seems easy to hide our individual “sin”, but when foolishness runs rampant, it is clearly a cancer killing us and not a party to just be enjoyed. And this visible truth reveals evidence of something greater and beyond just this physical life that we can see and touch and taste and smell. We are promised a life eternal — something after — something even greater — with all kinds of evidence that these promises are true.

If a man chooses Christ instead of sin — on this side He has chosen benefit and blessing and peace as His consequences. And I’m not talking about guaranteed health wealth and prosperity (those can actually be “sin” if we give up what is best in trade for them). But if a man chooses sin in this life, there will be those consequences and cost in this life.

If you have “sin” in your life that you know is costing you unnecessarily — I’m not here to guilt you into shame over your “wickedness” or being “evil”. As a father myself, that perspective when dealing with my daughter just isn’t particularly useful or helpful if I want her to learn and change her habits. But acknowledging “foolishness” and how the best might be “stolen from her” by poor choices is valuable. God isn’t surprised by your “sin”, you aren’t so especially wicked or evil or foolish — because all of us have fallen short and given up opportunity and purpose at times in this life.

But He offers us a reminder, a hand reached out in love, an example in His life, a guide in His Word, and a teacher in the Holy Spirit — to lead us not just through this life, but to prepare us for our forever home!

Is Christ your friend?

Would you like Him to be, but you aren’t sure how?

He promises that if you genuinely seek Him that you will find Him.

Time in His Word, praising and worshiping Him alongside other believers, and intimate time with Him in prayer are key.

And once you have seen that He is a trustworthy friend and a Good Father, believe Him, accept His promises, confess your belief, and share the reason for your hope through baptism and a life of loving and serving others and sharing what treasure you have found.

Does God and creator of the heavens and earth seem to be an unlikely friend to “someone like me”? I know, right? Nevertheless, He is. Truly, He is.

If you have any questions or would like help, please feel free to comment below or contact me.