The Best Thing

Read: Isaiah 22:1-24:23, Galatians 2:17-3:9, Psalm 60:1-12, Proverbs 23:15-16

I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
(Galatians 2:21)

Relate: I am currently working my way through an Old Testament history class. In one of my textbooks, I recently read a sentence that stuck out at me. In summing up the life of Samson, the author says, “One could say that the best thing Samson ever did for Israel was to die.” Even though Samson makes the list in what some preachers call the “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11), he is certainly the bottom of the barrel of that list. Gideon makes it, but he does quite a bit of bad as well as good. Jephthah makes it and he likely killed more Israelites in a civil war than he did Ammonites in a defensive one. Plus he offered up his daughter as a human sacrifice (most likely, there are alternative understandings). As rough as these two are, Samson is worse. It isn’t even close.

Don’t get me wrong, Samson is in many ways every Sunday School boy’s hero. He has superhuman strength. He doesn’t have to worry about haircuts. And he goes around killing bad guys with a jawbone, tearing gates off cities, and setting wild animals on fire. What preteen or early teenage boy wouldn’t love this guy? Well, in his own day he wasn’t well-loved. He was impulsive and obdurate. He couldn’t keep it in his pants and his sexual addictions wrecked his life. No seriously. It literally wrecked his life. As fun as his story is to read and tell, this isn’t the kind of guy I want my children to emulate. If I want an “s” name for my boys I will stick to “Samuel” or “Steven.” Samson is a better name for a dog. It better fits his personality. The way the story plays out, it is almost as if he needed to die. In the end, he redeemed himself through his death. But one must wonder, if he was able to actually live by the commands of his Nazirite vow and the commandments, would his death really have been so necessary?

React: As rough as Samson’s story is, the same thing could be true of another. The best thing that Christ could do for us is to die. Samson was a Nazirite. Jesus was a Nazarene. Samson lived only in the moment. Jesus was constantly looking to the future. Samson lived only for himself. Jesus said everything he did was according to the will of the Father. Samson carried the gate of the city up the hill to rescue himself. Jesus was the gate, but he carried the cross up the hill to rescue us all. But unlike Samson, the ultimate antihero, Jesus was the perfect man. Samson needed to die to get out of the picture. Jesus died that we might re-enter it. Because of Samson’s sins, he needed to die. Because of our sins, Jesus needed to die. One could say that the best thing Jesus ever did for the world was to die.

One could also say that the best thing I could ever do for this world is to die. The question is, how will I do it? Will I deny myself, take up my cross to die daily, and follow him? Will I seek to know Christ in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like Him in his death? Or will I live my own way, following my own desires and cravings to the point where the only way God can do good in the world is by getting me out of it? If the best thing we all can do is die… I want to be crucified with Christ.

Respond:


Dear God,
Don’t let my life become a cautionary tale. Don’t let me be like Samson. Help me to love You more than I love myself. Help me to die to sexual or any other addiction rather than allowing them to conquer me. Don’t let me live in such a way that my own people would rather tie me up and hand me over than to stand by my side. Help me to live a life of dying daily so that it will not be said of me “The best thing he could do is die.” I thank you that Your death has paid for my sin and Your resurrection has enabled me to live victoriously. Now let me live following You in the shadow of that cross.
Amen

5 thoughts on “The Best Thing

  1. The brokenness of most Biblical characters often escapes us. I loved how you compared Jesus to Samson and the different perspectives and heart motivations each had. Beautifully written.

    • That is one of the major differences Islam has with Judiasm and Christianity. They can’t begin to imagine that men like Abraham, Moses, and David could have flaws. For us, it is proof that grace covers even the greatest of sins. In a religion that has no room for concepts like love and grace, it is only evidence that they could not have been “prophets.” And that is not an option.

Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s