We really can't base our understanding of Jesus on any of the systems in our society, which can make it hard sometimes to understand Jesus. Things that we have not experienced before are usually understood by comparison so how do we understand what cannot be compared. The values of our society are so much lower than Jesus' that it can be hard to relate. His love is so perfect that everything else looks like hate, in comparison. His grace .... to what could we possibly compare his grace?
What Jesus did for us has nothing to do with us and everything to do with him. I think this is a point that is difficult for any of us to grasp living in a society that places value according to merit. No one has value simply because they exist. Whether you realize it or not we are constantly evaluating everyone around us and place value on them according to how we judge them.
It is sort of like the tipping system. Some people tip regardless of the quality of the service because they realize that server is being paid less than at other jobs with the boss counting on the server being tipped. Whereas, other people don't care and will only tip if the server merits it. Most of society operates on this merit system. We give back to people what we believe they merit according to what they contribute to us. If you don't believe me make note of your actions and thoughts today toward the people in your environment.
Jesus does not operate on a merit system. While we were still sinners, his enemies, he died for us. We did not merit his love. We have not earned forgiveness. We don't deserve his peace. Yet, he pours out his grace on us in great abundance. I came across this verse in Deuteronomy the other day that got me thinking about all this:
“Do not think in your heart, after the your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the has brought me in to possess this land’; but because of the wickedness of these nations the is driving them out from before you." (Deuteronomy 9:4)
Moses then went on to list all the things this new nation had done to offend Yahweh. It was a reality check, one that we would do well to do every now and then. We are not a better people than anyone else. We are not the cream of the crop. We are not a perfect people who deserve special treatment. We have not earned some special favour to be selected by Jesus. We are simply a people who accepted an invitation that we did not deserve. The only difference between those who have accepted Jesus and those who have not is ... we accepted Jesus. We all come from the same place, with the same guilt, with the same destination. Now our destination has been changed because we accept the free, undeserved gift of Jesus Christ.
If we understood this in a world that can't quite grasp the notion of grace, perhaps we would love a lot more and complain a lot less. People have not earned our love and probably do not deserve it, but because Jesus loved us we aught to be loving others; even our enemies.