"They Don't Deserve You"

BY PAUL DUNK

As Wonder Woman hit theatres earlier this month and the reviews poured in, many of them carried the same sentiment: she’s the only hero in the DCEU thus far who hasn’t induced mixed feelings from the fans of the genre but instead has received near universal applause for getting the character right.

We saw it as a family and I’d have to agree that the film was a good time. Diana’s mythology unfolds in an intriguing way and how they manage to get her from Themyscira into our world is interesting. There is a line in one scene where Diana decides to leave Themyscira to save the humans that struck me.

Diana’s mother Hippolyta considers mankind to be primitive, violent and depraved. She talks with disdain about the injustice we continually heap on one another and concludes that we aren’t worth saving.

“They don’t deserve you.”

True – but Diana decides to go anyways.

I’m not sure there’s anything that hits our ears with more force than the sound of undeserved grace. Regardless of the storytelling genre, our ears perk up and our hearts swell in our chests when grace and sacrifice emerge. It’s like the human soul is hardwired to recognize its need for grace – and it leaps when it recognizes it.

Core Christianity revolves around undeserved grace. The 66 books of the bible, written by 40 different authors over the course of a few millennia, all culminate to form one epic account of undeserved grace that puts Christ at the centre. What’s more is that this great grace doesn’t pop up in the gospels with the incarnation of the Son of God – we find that God’s grace was on the move – from the beginning. 

As the scriptures unfold, we find that God created everything in perfection, our sin brought damnation, so God in His amazing grace offered redemption and in the end, is going to bring full restoration. When you see the cross shaped key that unlocks all of scripture, you can’t help but come to a conclusion about God’s grace that sounds a little like Hippolyta:

We don’t deserve Him.

A glimpse of God’s undeserved grace: from the BEGINNING …

CREATING
God referred to Himself in a plural form when creating us. (Let US make…) This tells is something invaluable: love is intrinsic to the universe. The Christian God is, within Himself, an eternal loving community. Creation is not the byproduct of a lonely, needy God who desired loyal subjects, but the result of a loving God who desired to expand the circle of His self-giving love. In Christian faith, love is not merely a byproduct of creation – it propelled it. [1]

When God looked at everything after He created it and said, “it is good”, He wasn’t doing quality control. God wasn’t inspecting creation, He was ENJOYING it … like when you take a bite of your favourite food, salute it with your fork and say, “that’s good!”

This is why when we look at nature, we feel like it’s beauty is calling us in. The bigness of the sky, mesmerizing cloud formations, breathtaking sunsets, the mountains, the forests, the vastness of the ocean and the smallness we feel when we stare at the stars – nature itself is singing the praises of it’s Maker. It calls our souls to join in.

The human soul was built to know its Maker says, “you’re very good”, but as we look out across the world, and in the mirror, we know that we’re not very good. Something has gone wrong with the world that needs to be put right – but we can’t put it right. Something has gone wrong in us that needs to be put right – but we can’t make ourselves right. Until our souls find their rest in God, they will remain in a constant restlessness, clamouring for something or someone to tell us we’re very good. Our education, careers or success must tell us we’re very good. Our relationships must tell us we’re very good. Our pinterest-perfect homes and our carefully crafted social media presence must tell us we’re very good. Our positions of influnece in the community or the church must tell us we’re very good. The number of people reading our blogs and attending our churches must tell us we’re very good. Until our souls find  their rest in God, even when something or someone seems to be telling us we’re very good, it won’t be enough. We will take up the next day and need to be told we’re very good – again.

Genesis 1 reveals something that is as hopeful as it is striking: the process of our creation foreshadows the process of our redemption. The apostle John draws a straight line between creation and re-creation to show how both are by sheer grace:

Genesis 1 tells us that in the beginning there was darkness. Life wasn’t possible with the current state of the world, so the Spirit moved over the face of the waters as God spoke a Word that caused light to shine in the darkness.

John 1 tells us that in our beginning we were born into darkness. Life in God wasn’t possible with the current state of our hearts, so the Spirit moved over our hearts as the Word of God was spoken in the gospel that caused the Light of Christ to shine into our darkness. [1b]

The God who made matter – was willing to humble Himself and become matter. The God who created us from the dirt of the ground was willing to clothe Himself in the clay of His own creation. The eternal Word that said “Let there be light” and spoke the world into being – was willing to cry in a manger. The Son of God who spoke and creation itself happened, was willing to shriek from a Roman cross and have nothing happen. The One who enjoyed eternal loving community was willing to be utterly forsaken in order to bring us into eternal loving community. The Lord of creation was willing to die to redeem His creation. [2]

Once again, God the Father says “you are very good” over us because God the Son was perfectly good for us and God the Spirit unites us. Our restless souls find rest in His undeserved grace.

SEEKING
When our parents sinned in the garden, God didn’t ask “what did you do?” but “where are you?” This shines a spotlight on God’s utter determination from the beginning, to seek and save the lost.

From the very MOMENT our parents sinned, God’s movement was toward them, not away from them – to save them, not eradicate them. The INSTANT we were in a state of damnation, God began initiating redemption. [3]

GIVING
Romans 5 refers to Jesus as the second Adam because God’s grace for us in Christ is how God will restore everything. God will end all sin because He is just, but He will not end us because He is gracious – He paid the penalty for our sin Himself.  He absolved our debt. For all who are united to Christ, judgement day already happened on a Roman cross.

Consider how Adam was given his bride and how Christ was given His.

God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam – in the Hebrew, this invites the listener to imagine “the sleep of death”. Christ, the second Adam, did sleep the sleep of death. 

God pierced Adam’s side and a Roman centurion pierced Christ’s side. Adam’s bride came from the rib in His side. Christ’s bride came from the blood and water from His side – the blood for our redemption and water for our purification. 

Adam rose from the sleep of death, in a garden and saw the bride His Father had given to him. Christ rose from the sleep of death, in a garden and saw Mary: a woman who Jesus liberated from a sinful life, representing the church – the bride His Father is giving to Him.

In the Garden, God asked Adam to obey Him by a tree – but he didn’t. In the Garden of Gethsemane, God asked the 2nd Adam to obey Him by being crucified on a tree – and He did.

RESTORING
God gave a command for Adam and Eve to keep. Now, a fruit tree isn’t an immoral thing – it’s actually a good thing. This teaches us something significant. The essence of sin goes far deeper than breaking the rules of God – sin is the refusal to relate to God like He’s God. Eating the fruit declared something far more insidious than simply saying “I don’t care about the rules of God”. The act said, “I’ll find ultimate fulfillment apart from God, by being god.”

Being our own gods drives us into a life of trusting in things infinitely smaller than god, hoping they will give our souls the satisfaction that is only found in God. God’s command about the tree reveals that the we were created to love God in a supreme way, not merely believe in Him in a general way. By loving God supremely, we are free to enjoy good things without turning them into idolatrous, ultimate things.

In the beginning, they took and ate the fruit and it brought death. Now, every time the church gathers, we take and eat the bread and cup to celebrate that we have life. [4]

The very actions that brought our damnation God has redeemed to serve as actions that remind us of our redemption.

Everything we lost because of Adam’s disobedience by a tree will one day be restored because Christ, the second Adam gave Himself in perfect obedience on a tree. The cross was a tree of death for Jesus, which is precisely what makes it a tree of life for us.

We don’t deserve Him.

Yet, by grace and faith alone, we are forgiven and free. United to Him we are both rescued and being renewed. God’s undeserved grace has been on the move … from the beginning.

Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.  He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.
Twitter @PaulDunk