Baseball cards This week we began a new mini-series in our Middle School Ministry called "2 Big Words."  Every now and then we come across big words that are difficult to say or understand.  In Christianity, there are a couple of words that are not only central to our faith, but because the words are uncommon we might not realize how important these concepts are.  In the two weeks of this mini-series we will be talking about justification and sanctification.

Let me justify this...

You may not know a lot about justification, but you have probably heard someone say something a long the lines of "let me justify it."  Perhaps it is an unusual love for Justin Bieber music and someone has the need to explain their reasoning behind listening to that kind of music.  Often it will happen in situations where somebody did something wrong; so someone will try to justify their wrong choice by explaining the reason behind their actions.

To justify something simply means "to make right."  When we try to justify our actions, we are trying to make them okay.  When we talk about our Christian faith and the idea of justification, we are talking about how our relationship with God is made right.

We all are guilty.

There's not a single one of us who aren't guilty for something.  We could go through the commandments one by one and list out the reasons that we are guilty of breaking them.  We are sinful and this sin has separated us from God.  God is holy and cannot be where sin is, so because of our sin, we have a problem.  God cannot be near us.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23

What can you do to justify your guilt?  What can you do to make things right with God?  Is there a certain amount of good things you can do to outweigh the bad decisions?  Is there any way that you can justify yourself?  Fortunately, the answer is no.  We can't justify ourselves, but God is not content with letting us be separated from him, so in his great love for us, God makes right our relationship with him.

The unfair trade.

When I was younger, I collected all kinds of trading cards.  Occasionally my uncle, who was a garbage man, would deliver boxes filled with trading cards that he found in the trash.  My two brothers and I would take the boxes and have to distribute them amongst the three of us; we'd all take turns picking the ones we wanted.  Sometimes my youngest brother would end up with a card that I wanted for my collection.  Since he was young and didn't know much and I was older and smarter, I contrived a way to get the card I wanted without losing other ones I loved.  I traded.  Now it was never a fair trade, I somehow would convince him that a rookie card for a rookie card was an even trade.  Even if one was a Shaq rookie card and the other was never heard of.  I got all the benefits while Corey got none of them.

When we talk about justification, we are also talking about an unfair trade.  Nobody gets tricked in this trade, but it is certainly not an even trade.  When Jesus goes to the cross, he is making the biggest unfair trade in the history of the world.  Jesus trades his righteousness for our sin.  We receive all the benefits; we get a right relationship with God.  And Jesus becomes sin.  Our relationship with God is made right because Jesus justifies and by faith we receive this gift.

Photo Credit: Calaggie