Dear church,

I remember being in a corn maze one time. These are big fall thrills in places like Kansas – with lots of farmland and not a lot of other things to do. It’s where I grew up!

I was in the corn maze with my daughter and some of her classmates. This was a school field trip to the farm. They’d already watched a cow being milked. The educational part of the trip was over. Now they were having fun.

At one end of the corn maze was a large tower where supervisors gave guidance to children (and adults) who got trapped in the corn maze. Who knows? Someone might have had a panic attack in trying to get out.

So if someone was ready to raise the white flag and proclaim an inability to extract himself or herself from the corn maze, the guy in the tower was there to help. “Go to your right! … Now go left. … No, wrong way. Turn around. … The exit is just around that next turn.”

Sometimes we get into situations we need help getting out of. But where do we go for help?

The apostle Paul said we are living in the “present evil age.” And Paul said Jesus gave himself up for our sins to deliver us from it.

There are two key theological ideas that stood out to me in this opening passage in Galatians. The first is Paul affirmed the notion Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Some Christians dispute this idea (which dates back to the earliest church leaders – because it’s scriptural). Some Christians don’t like the idea of the Son giving up his life in obedience to the Father. Some don’t like the idea of Jesus being our substitute in his death on the cross.

But Paul wrote very clearly, the Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins.” Jesus died for you and me. Our sins were a big part of the equation. They were the problem. And Jesus paid the price so we wouldn’t have to. He died so we might have life.

The second theological idea that stood out to me is the one of being delivered from this “present evil age.” We must come to terms with the fact this current time in history is evil – as was every time in history after the first sin entered the world. Things don’t go the way we want them to go. People lie to each other. People cheat and steal and kill.

No matter how much we try to say humanity is progressively getting kinder and gentler and more advanced in the arts of love and respect, we all can see this is not true. How many people died in the Holocaust? How many have died during the past 100 years in other unnamed genocides around the world? How many nuclear warheads do we have stored up – just in case?

We’re stuck in a corn maze. How do we escape? Reincarnation doesn’t help us here. Is it better to be stuck in this present evil age as a human, or as a butterfly or an anteater?

But Christ provides a way out. If you read your Bible, you will see there is an age to come – a new creation – where all sin and death and sickness and crying and pain will cease. God has in mind a resurrected life for every person who has faith in Jesus Christ, and that resurrected life will be pure bliss.

This fundamentally diseased age will pass away. A new one is coming. And this is what we look forward to as Christians, and this is what we get a foretaste of through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In this, we can have grace and peace.


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