There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4
The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha has a butterfly pavilion. This is a garden space enclosed by a net, which holds thousands of butterflies inside. With hundreds of people going through daily, the pavilion is one of the zoo's more popular exhibits.
I've heard of many such butterfly exhibits, but I've never heard of an attraction that housed wasps. Not surprising. Who would enjoy sitting in a pavilion full of vicious stinging insects?
When a wasp flies into a room, what is your reaction? You want to avoid it; you may want to kill it.
Why? Does the wasp sting every time it lands on someone? Have you been stung every time you have encountered a wasp? Has it stung you at that point when you first spot it? No. In fact, if you measured the amount of time a wasp stings compared to the time it actually lives, it probably uses less than one percent of its life engaged in actively stinging.
But stinging is how we define a wasp. By nature, it stings. Bees sting too, but usually only when defending their hive or they encounter a perceived danger to themselves. That's part of the reason we associate bees with sweetness and industry while wasps make us think of aggressiveness and mayhem.
How do you define people?
Every Sunday, in my church, worshippers confess that they are "poor, miserable sinners" who are, by nature "sinful and unclean." Like a wasp which is defined by its stinging nature, we humans are defined by our sin. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin, because we are sinners.
Here's another similarity: a wasp cannot, by its own choice, change its nature and not sting. To be waspish is to sting. Similarly, humans cannot change their sinful nature. To be human is to sin.
Thankfully for us, God loves us (see John 3:16) and wants us to be with Him (see John 14:2).
True, God cannot tolerate sin any more than we can tolerate being stung, but God has made a way by which He can change our nature. That way is ours through His Son Jesus who came to earth as a man, but who was also God (see Philippians 2:6).
For us, Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled God's Law (see Matthew 5:17). His sacrifice completed, the conquering Christ was able to enter God's presence (see Hebrews 10:12). At the same time, He forgives our sins. As St. Paul says, (Philippians 3:8-10a) "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -- that I may know Him and the power of his resurrection ...."
By the Holy Spirit's power we are given the Savior's blood-bought righteousness, and we can -- forgiven and without fear -- stand in the presence of God.
It would be as if the next time a wasp flew into our room, its nature was turned into that of a butterfly.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I, a poor, miserable sinner give thanks for a Savior who sacrificed Himself so I might be forgiven and saved. May I live a life which proclaims the wonders of Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's devotion was written by Michael Burger who owns a screen printing and sign company in Davenport, Nebraska. A number of years ago I had the opportunity to be the guest at his home. Burger is a layman at St. Peter Lutheran in Davenport where he has been the high school Bible class teacher for 18 years. God has blessed him with a wonderful wife and children. This devotion is the product of a sleepless night spent in fellowship with the Lord.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries