You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5: 6 – 8)
Sometimes little words slip past us like water through our fingers. In this passage the little words are, “at just the right time.” These words reveal that the Father’s idea of the right time is radically different from ours.
The whole world had rebelled against God. His voice had gone out to all nations and through all generations, calling us home. The Creator had never stopped extending the invitation to return. He revealed himself in every morning mist, and in the cloud of stars we call the Milky Way. In every generation he sent visionaries and poets to describe the beauty of living in harmony with the Creator. But we would have none of it. We were unwilling, and unable, to see or hear.
These three Holy Spirit-inspired verses from Paul’s letter show us that God’s view of the “right time” is when we are powerless. Even if we had wanted to return to the Creator, we were unable.
The lesson for disciples is not simply that God is gracious (though he is). It’s not simply that he accomplishes redemption when we cannot (he does). No. For those who take seriously the possibility that we can imitate his goodness and character, the lesson is that the right time to act is when others cannot.
How often I have waited for others to meet me halfway. If I am going to help someone, I require a “show of good faith.” I’ve walked away from people in need—materially, emotionally, spiritually—because I thought they weren’t interested in helping themselves. The lesson of the gospel is, in part, that God acted first, without any guarantee that his extravagant love would be received. He risked rejection because action had to be taken.
As his disciple, am I willing to do the same?