Jump Start # 2072
Romans 5:6 “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Timing is the key in so many things. It’s important in telling a joke. It’s important in closing a sale. It’s important in politics and even in sports. The last lap of a race, the final stretch of a horse race, the final two minutes of a game, when to foul, when to bring in the relief pitcher—it’s all timing.
Our verse today says, “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” The right time. What is interesting, is that it seems from our side of things to have been the wrong time. There are a series of “while” expressions that flow together.
- While we were still helpless (6)
- While we were yet sinners (8)
- While we were enemies (10)
Those “while” expressions do not paint a good picture of us. Helpless, sinful and enemies of God. While we are at our worst, the best came. This is the point Paul is driving at. This is one way in which God proved or demonstrated His love for us. God didn’t wait until we stopped doing wrong. He didn’t wait until we promised never to do wrong again. He didn’t wait until we started going to church services. None of that happened. Christ came WHILE we were helpless, sinful and enemies of God. God caught us in the act. We have no excuse.
At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. Is there a lesson for us in this? Can we see something helpful?
Maybe we wait for a person to get their act together, clean themselves up and then we are ready to talk with them. We don’t approach “WHILE” they are helpless and enemies. But it just might be when a person is at the pig pen of their life, like the prodigal was, that they realize how miserable, lost and guilty they are. It may be while they are sitting in the cell of a jail. It may be while they are staring at a divorce paper. It may be as they realize they have just lost their job. Low points. Not stellar moments in our life. These don’t make the highlight reels of our memories. These become the never ending nightmares that we wonder if we can ever make it through. These are the times when we say, “it can’t get any worse.” Helpless. Sinful. Enemies. Timing. At the right time.
We like happy people to come to our congregations. We want people who are successful, well adjusted, good people. Yet, so many of those people don’t think that they need Jesus. Life is good for them. It’s those who realize that they are helpless, sinful and enemies of God that come home, like the prodigal did. Often they bring problems, issues and baggage. They often require a lot of attention and needs. Often one has to carefully stay with them or they tend to wander back into the world. They don’t come with pockets full of money to give to the church. They don’t come with experience and knowledge to teach. They are not on the radar to be future leaders. But they are souls that are loved by God and have hearts that need help. Some get frustrated with the continual needs that some bring to a congregation. Some run out of patience. Some are ready for them to hit the road and go somewhere else. Helping them finding housing. Helping them land a job. Helping them through financial mistakes. Bible studies. More Bible studies. Slow, slow, slow is the progress. Years into this and some are still barely making it, getting it and understanding what it’s all about.
And, there remains our verse: at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
Some folks are high maintenance. That’s just the way it is. Leadership and others have to remember what their roles are. Often, those very souls that need so much attention, reach out to others who are also helpless, sinful and enemies of God. They bring family members and friends to services. More people to help. More people to reach. More souls to save. More good to be done. It may tax the energy level of the leaders, but saving souls is what the church is about. It’s not finding nice people who will make our church better, it’s find those who are helpless, hopeless and in need of Christ.
Three times Paul says, “While.” While you were helpless. While you were sinners. While you were enemies. It’s while all this was going on that Christ came. He came at the right time. He didn’t wait until we were ready. He didn’t wait until things settled down. At the right time.
For us, the right time is when a person needs Christ. It may mean going out in the evening to meet a family after we’ve gotten home from work. We just want to stay in, but “it’s the right time.” It may mean meeting someone immediately after services. The family is ready to hit the restaurant and you want to join them, but “it’s the right time.” It may mean giving up a Saturday. Christ came when the time was right. Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to serve when the time is right?
The mark of a servant is helping his master when he needs it. At the right time…