Scripture Reference: Hosea 2:1-23
In the Church I grew up in, there used to an old man who never missed on any opportunity to be a leader in Church. Since I was a kid, up to my University days, this guy always stuck
in there. And then when he spoke to the church congregation, he would ask questions like: “Are you in some way a leader in Church?”, “Are you helping out in Sunday school?”, “Do you tithe?”, and “What then are you doing for God?”
It was clear to all of us, and me in particular, that in order for God to love me, and eventually go to heaven, I needed to do something for God. And many other people in my church took up responsibilities because they were ‘working for heaven.’ We needed to do something that will catch God’s attention and then He would love us, approve of us and things like that.
This became the mark of the Christian life: “get your hands dirty and go to heaven.” I mean it does make whole lot of sense, doesn’t it? Do something for God and He will do something for you. Therefore the trick is simple: “only, and I mean only those with dirt under their finger nails go to heaven. You gotta work for this stuff, like am doing, man!”
The passage in Hosea tells us something different. We see God, through His prophet—Hosea—confronting the Children of Israel who had made it tradition to do what was detestable in the eyes of sovereign God by worshiping and offering sacrifices to a foreign god of Baal.
God promises to punish them by crashing their idols and taking away their joy (vv. 3, 6, 8, 9, 12). But the twist is in verse 14. He says: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her (KJV).” God promises to win Israel back by loving her. Notice that Israel is still evil, but God promises to come down to clean up their mess.
Therefore, God in the person of Jesus Christ comes to win the Baal-worshiping you and me for God. Not because of our work for Him, but because our work is filthy and we need the work of another, so perfect to pull it off for us.
And Jesus comes down into the dirt-ridden trenches of this world characterized with misery, shame, guilt, hate, conditionality, scorn, and all those things so that he will do for us what we cannot do—save ourselves. And so Paul writes: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ep. 2:8-9, KJV).”
The dirt under our finger nails, therefore, can never get God to love us. The positions in church, the volunteer program in Sunday school, and even tithe, these cannot settle our relationship with God. Dirt under His finger nails, on the other hand is our ticket to God and eternal life. The work of Jesus is our only hope. The dirt under the finger nails of Jesus is our only hope. Not what we do or can do, but what Jesus has done for train wrecks like you and me. That is our only hope.