We are in the midst of what seems an interminable election season. That means, if you have a TV on for any reason, you are being deluged with attack ads.
These video tabloids are predictable, even comical. The target has his/her most unflattering photo, usually scowling, displayed in sepia tones and grainy film effects, while their alleged misdeeds are splashed boldly across the screen.
Our voting decisions need to be made seriously; however, we ought to be thankful that almighty God doesn’t treat us this way. He knows all about us, including those secret flaws and failings we squirrel away from public view. God has ample material to display our sins across the skies, if He wanted.
Instead, the best news in the Bible reveals God has acted in a manner polar opposite to these attack ads. Two short verses summarize this remarkable message. The first: “He [Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25 NIV)
God’s tabloid on our sins would be completely accurate, and our punishment just. Instead, He sent Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, who demonstrated first how life was meant to be lived. Then Jesus, having done nothing wrong— ever— volunteered to be punished for everything we’ve ever done that missed God’s perfect standard. He was “delivered over to death for our sins”. Who would ever volunteer to pay for the misdeeds of another?
Jesus’ debt paid the price for anyone who trusts Him. The receipt followed: Jesus was also “raised to life for our justification”. His resurrection proves our debt has been paid!
Justification is a reality that could only originate with God. We can picture it in financial terms. Imagine you had a debt you could never repay, and that debt was canceled— that’s forgiveness. Then envision someone with immeasurable wealth sharing that sum with you— that’s justification.
Not only is that attack ad against us scrapped, but we can be brought into family relation with God Himself. How? “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
This breathtaking transaction— having the guilt of sin canceled and being brought into right relation with God— occurs when we trust Jesus Christ and what He has already done for us. That trust isn’t mere lip service: we turn from our own self-absorption and pride and depend on Jesus alone for a relationship with the living God.
That relationship brings peace with God: peace apart from our circumstances; peace that can be found nowhere else.
Dealing with attacks is part of the blood sport of politics. But disparaging, even misrepresenting others in order to gloat over their defeat is far, far from our highest and best pursuit.
Instead, let’s consider God’s gracious offer to each of us, respond wholeheartedly, then reach out to others with His love in mind… that’s living out the reality and beauty of God’s anti-attack ad.
Don Baumann is retired pastor at Hilltop Community Church