Our nation witnessed diplomacy at its best this week. Three Americans, detained in North Korea, were welcomed back home–to the land of free–the home of the brave—by the Commander in Chief, First lady, Vice President, Secretary of State, and an excited, thankful nation. Regardless of political view, or feelings about foreign policy, no one can say this historical homecoming wasn’t touching. A moment frozen in time tugging on the chords of the American heart. For these men had been gone, but now they were home. It wasn’t because of their power. It wasn’t because of their plea. It was because someone else did the brokering and sacrificing for them.
As I watched the coverage the next morning at the gym, I couldn’t help but think about our relationship with Jesus. Through Christ and only Christ are we provided freedom! Through Christ and only Christ are we welcomed back home! And through Christ and only Christ, on the Day of Judgment, will we be escorted back to Heaven where our true citizenship lies (Philippians 3:20)! What an amazing Savior we serve!
But when that great homecoming takes place, it won’t be because of anything we’ve done on our own. It won’t be because of our power. It won’t be because of our plea. It will be because someone else did the brokering and sacrificing for us–Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Paul reminds us of this beautiful truth in Ephesians 2:8 when Paul said, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Paul says that two vital, irreplaceable factors are involved in our salvation—our “freedom”—our “homecoming”: God’s grace and our faith.
Grace is a gift we don’t deserve, provided to us through Christ. As some have often attached the acronym to grace–God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Faith leads us to obey God–not only through His plan for our salvation (including confession, repentance, baptism for the forgiveness of sins) but through our faithfulness to Him every day. We don’t just ride the bus to Heaven (God’s grace) without getting our ticket (our faith)!
Yet even when both are engaged–God’s grace and our faith—we still don’t “earn” our “homecoming.” We can’t be good enough. We go to the Father through Jesus, and only Jesus, for He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life (John 14:6).
Three Americans’ lives were changed forever because someone, somehow, provided a way for them to come home. Christians’ lives are changed forever because THE ONE, Jesus Christ, provides the path. He does the brokering and the sacrificing for us. For even when we wander far away from God, we can still come back! And one day, by His grace and our faith, hear Jesus say, “Welcome Home!” What a beautiful day–such a glorious day–that will be!