atonement, Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, death, devotional, God, inspirational, Jesus, motivational, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, New Testament, Old Testament, reconciliation, redemption, sacrifice, salvation, sin, The Hearth's Warming Club
Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Hearth’s Warming Club”
In this episode, a student purposely vandalized the School of Friendship on the eve of Hearth’s Warming, when all of the “international” students were eager to get home for their respective festivities. Angry at this, Headmare Twilight Sparkle threatened the group of students with being forced to stay over break for remedial friendship lessons unless the true culprit either confessed or was found. The one responsible, Gallus Griffon, did the deed as he had neither a home nor family to go to for the holidays and considered his own friends his family, and therefore did this to hopefully get them to stay longer and spend more time with him. Yet on hearing them get angry over missing their respective holidays and accuse each other, he realized he was hurting them and confessed everything.
While Twilight definitely felt sympathy for him and appreciated him coming forward, she stated that nevertheless he still had to face the punishment for what he had done. He still would incur the penalty of having to stay over break for remedial lessons. However, his classmates, on seeing how lonely he was, purposely volunteered to share his punishment so that he wouldn’t have to be by himself that holiday. As a result, Twilight decided they didn’t need the remedial lessons after all and invited them all to spend Hearth’s Warming with her.
What does all of this have to do with Christianity?
One of the big questions non-Christians might ask in regards to Christianity is why mankind needs a savior at all. Why Jesus? If God is truly all-powerful, truly has the ability to write the laws of the universe, and, perhaps most importantly, is truly all-loving, then why can he not just bring everyone into Heaven? Or, at minimum, if they ended up doing more good things in their life than bad, or are really sorry and tried to make up for anything bad they did; i.e. they’re a “good” person, why can’t that be sufficient for entry into Heaven?
In this episode, Gallus did what he did out of feelings of loneliness and unhappiness. It was a bit selfish and thoughtless, but it was also understandable, and once he realized the impact it had on his friends he confessed and was truly sorry. Nevertheless, although she understood and sympathized, Twilight wouldn’t let him off the hook. She had stated that there would be consequences for what had happened, and she wouldn’t go back on them regardless of the circumstances.
Similarly, in the Old Testament, God gave mankind, through the Israelites, the Mosaic Law. The Law set out everything that was good and everything that was evil, with the instruction that if you were able to keep the Law perfectly then you would be a “good person” and would receive eternal life (Leviticus 18:5), but whoever violated it would one day die for their violation, or sin (Deuteronomy 27:26). However, no one was able to keep the Law or is able to keep the Law, because the Law is perfect just as God is perfect, but people are not.
Jesus Himself pointed out just how hard it was to keep the Law during His time on Earth. That to be able to keep it actually meant going far beyond just following the literal interpretation but inward to one’s very thoughts, heart, and even nature…something no human being can carry out.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22). “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
So since everyone will eventually violate the law and be susceptible to its judgment, all are doomed to die for their sin and spend eternity separated from God in Hell.
Also similarly, God is indeed all-loving and understands us completely, but, like Twilight in her role of headmare, he can’t just ignore wrongdoing. God is perfect and just and he created a perfect order, including what is good and what is evil. For God to truly be perfectly just, good must be good and evil must be evil regardless of extenuating circumstances, motives, or regret. If God fails to reward good or punish evil, he is no longer just and no longer God, and good and evil themselves are purely arbitrary. Therefore, all people are doomed because of their own sins, because they cannot keep the law and the law demands that all who violate it be punished for it, and God must enforce this for the law to be perfect.
However, in this episode, the rest of the Student Six sympathized with Gallus so much that they volunteered to take his punishment on themselves for his sake. As a result of that, Twilight considered the conditions of the punishment satisfied, and what was supposed to be Gallus’ sentence for what he did ended up alleviating his loneliness and desire for a “family” for the holidays.
Similarly to this, God provided a way “around” this mortal dilemma in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ. A key part of the Mosaic Law is the idea of “sacrifice”; the ability to atone for minor misdemeanors and infractions that weren’t mortal by offering a sacrifice of equivalent value in its place (usually presented by a priest in the form of a sacrificial calf, goat, or the like). Once the sacrifice is offered, the terms of the law are fulfilled, and an individual is now “clean” with God. Hence, if the punishment for sin is death, then if a person was able to offer a sacrifice equivalent to their own life to be put to death in their place, God would now consider them clean and just in his sight because the terms of punishment would have been fulfilled. However, there was no sacrifice of equivalent value for a person’s life because all other people also sin and therefore need sacrifices of their own…at least until Jesus Christ came to Earth.
Jesus was fully mortal, and while fully mortal lived a perfect life according to the Mosaic Law. He fulfilled all terms of it and was considered pleasing and perfect in God’s eyes and eligible for the eternal life it brought. However, He, sympathizing with humanity and its plight just as God did, instead carried out God’s will by allowing Himself to be put to an unjust death. He was never eligible for death because He lived perfectly according to God, but He submitted to it so that He could die in place of all others who had committed sin. In doing so, He became the sacrificial offering for all mankind and cleared their records with God. “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12) “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2).
Just as Twilight now saw Gallus’ record “clear” because of the rest of the students taking his punishment on themselves, God now sees everyone who accepts Jesus’ sacrificial offering in their place as “clear” according to the law. In his eyes, that person now lives as if they too have never committed any sin, and are now able to share in eternal life as well (once their own bodies are subject to mortal death just as Jesus’ own was before He inherited eternal life).
“‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
This is the core of Christianity, the idea that separated it from its Judaic roots and why we preach the sacrifice of Lord Jesus. His gift is now free to all. The obligations of the law and the insurmountable task of living a perfect life has already been fully satisfied by Him. The only thing that remains for us is whether or not we wish to accept that sacrifice. If you are interested in doing so, you can through the following.
Otherwise, if you have already accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you might try praying the following.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, I can never thank you enough for the matchless, perfect, and incomparable gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, by whom and for whom I now am freed from sin and have eternal life. Please grant that I may live for Him today and share this gift with all others. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”