June Blog: “Just-in-time God”
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” ~Romans 5:6
The book of Romans illustrates that all have sinned, but then lays out the hope of salvation for all. At the end of Paul’s discourse that all are guilty with or without the law, he brings us this hope: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6).” This is the first of two blogs written to you to unpack this one impactful verse.
In this first installment, I want to focus on the phrase in this passage, “at just the right time.” When I was studying accounting in college, I learned about different ways that businesses value inventory and keep it on hand. Huge retailers like Walmart use a method of inventory valuation called “just-in-time accounting.” As inventory is purchased, more is ordered. The cashier at the register scans your loaf of bread, and another loaf of bread is ordered. That is how they keep the shelves well-stocked (This is, of course, under normal circumstances, not the way things are right now with COVID-19). Bread goes out the door, another loaf of bread is ordered. Socks are purchased, more socks are ordered. It’s called just-in-time accounting because the next item that is needed is ordered and supplied just in time, or just as soon as the need is there. This avoids over-ordering or stockpiling of inventory that is not needed. Imagine if your grocer ordered 50 loaves of bread a week before they were needed! You’d have stale bread!
Just as businesses order inventory using a just-in-time system, our God is a just-in-time God. The passage in Romans says, “at just the right time . . . Christ died for the ungodly.” He died for the sins of people from the creation to the cross. He died for those of his day, in Jerusalem and Judea. And He died for those from the future, who were far off, people like you and me. Look at Romans 3:25(b)-26: “He did this [shedding His blood] to demonstrate his righteousness, because in His forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Let’s break these verses in Romans down:
· “. . . He left the sins committed beforehand unpunished . . .” He died for sins committed in the past, before the cross
· “He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time . . .” He died for people who believed in Him in the present time of the cross
· “so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” He died for future believers, for all who would and will believe in Him
Jesus prayed for those of us in the future (since the time He walked the earth) when He prayed, “My prayer is not for them [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe [future generations!] in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:20-23, emphasis mine).”
I wonder what our world is going to be like in the very near future. Many are getting sick and some are dying from COVID-19. People are killed at the hands of those sworn to protect them. People are protesting, betrayed and angry, and rioting. Some may wonder where God is in all of this. Christ calls us to walk in unity – to stand in unity – as we face the world all around us. That way the world will know His love. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. Not only is He a just-in-time God, but He’s the God who comes at the right time. He’s a just-in-time God; He’s the God of the past, present, and future; and He cares about us.