It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
1 Corinthians 1:30
Being Something You Are Not
I was never going to be an NBA center. Though I’m tall by average standards, I would appear tiny standing next to a seven-footer. Worse than that, I’m not good at basketball. Even though people probably told me as a child, “You can be whatever you want to be,” I was never going to be an NBA center, no matter how much I wanted it.
You can’t be something you’re not, right? If you’re bashful, it’s hard to be outgoing. If you’re outgoing, it’s hard to keep your mouth shut. We’re all created and wired in our own special way. We all have unique gifts and interests. It’s nearly impossible to be something you’re not.
And yet that’s exactly what Jesus has done for us. He’s made us something we’re not. He’s made us sinners righteous, perfect, and holy in our heavenly Father’s sight, even though we’re not. We could never have become perfect and sinless by ourselves. No combination of our time and effort could have ever gotten over the finish line. But what was impossible for us sinners has been done by Jesus, and through faith in him, his perfection is ours. Yes, as St. Paul writes, Jesus “has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
Martin Luther called it the Great Exchange, this trading places that we sinners do with the sinless Son of God. He marveled endlessly at this amazing reality. “Lord Jesus,” he once wrote, “you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You have become what you were not so that I might become what I was not.”
The way Jesus saves sinners is both simple and profound. He takes on himself what is ours—sin and death—and gives us what is his—perfection and life. We could have never done it ourselves in a million lifetimes, but Jesus has done it for all. He has made us something we’re not.
Dear Jesus, help me marvel in the fact that by your death and resurrection you have made me what I am not—perfect. Amen.