For me, what's the old expression, 'Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,' that's really what religion is good at when it is done right. And the truth is, so is television.
--Mike Rowe, host of the hit TV show, Dirty Jobs
Romans 5:10 (ESV):
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
In Episode 189 of his podcast, The Way I Heard It, Mike Rowe offers an amazing story of one of American history’s most notorious traitors. Benedict Arnold was a remarkably talented general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Unsatisfied by the way he saw the war advancing, and hurt by what he observed as a lack of gratitude for his military sacrifices, Arnold changed allegiance from the American Colonies to the Great Britain Armies. Arnold offered to surrender West Point to the British for the lump-sum payment of 20,000 British pounds. His plans were intercepted, he was labeled a traitor, and his name became synonymous with betrayal and treason. No one in American History has been such a great traitor as Benedict Arnold.
In the history of the world, however, there have been many who have eclipsed the betrayal of Arnold. If you care you can look up the stories of Vidkun Quisling, Wang Jingwei, Marcus Junius Brutus, Robert Ford, and Judas Iscariot. All of these betrayed the trust of their neighbors and earned the label traitor.
The greatest betrayal was the first betrayal by Adam and Eve. Pastor Anthony Carter of East Point Church in East Point, Georgia says this, “When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, they not only rebelled against God; they also betrayed his goodness and denounced his rule. It was the ultimate act of treason. Adam and Eve turned God into the enemy as they surrendered themselves and the world to sin. By doing so, they created enmity between them and God and passed that enmity to all who would come after them. The apostle Paul tells us that in Adam we all sinned (Romans 5:12), and therefore we were all made enemies of God (Romans 5:10).”
Even in the midst of this great betrayal, God was looking to fix what Eve and Adam had broken. In order for anyone to get back to the right relationship Adam and Eve had enjoyed with their Creator the enmity would have to be removed. This is what Jesus has done for us. Through the cross, we are made able to trade our sin for God’s righteousness. This transaction has been called “the great scandal of grace”. Jesus becomes our sin and we become God’s riotousness. Pastor Carter says it this way, “Salvation is God ending the enmity between himself and us through the life and death of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10). In a word, reconciliation is the gospel.”
Reconciliation is what we preach every time we look past our own desires and place others’ comfort before our own. When we live lives of sacrifice a hateful world must stop and examine itself. This type of selflessness is what transforms traitors into sons and daughters of God.
Holy Spirit, I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you, praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things
To your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
You are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it also be made in heaven.
-- John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer