Sermon: Patriotism, the Summer Soldier, and Our Times (Part One)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 28-Mar-21; 71 minutes
The title of this message is, I think, important. It is "Patriotism, the Summer Soldier, and Our Times, Part One." But after preparing the sermon, I realized that there is so much to do that I have a long way for a growth period before me. And it is so long, to me, that it is somewhat incredible, and I became quite fearful of being inadequate to the simple level of the teaching required within the sermons.
Now, my thoughts in this sermon continues to be on the mental preparations for the next five years because of the destructive attitudes and the activities of the American people that many of us apparently either personally witnessed, saw on TV news broadcasts, or read of in one magazine or another, or maybe we saw portions of it on a telecast. But at any rate, the signs that have been given to us are ominous and we must set our minds to be prepared for that period because history shows us that, as this kind of activity continues out in the public, eventually Christianity becomes the target. Whether it is by human means that it is turned in that direction or, as we know the demons are at war against us and they are most likely going to be the culprits that turn things against the church.
These next five years are also on my mind to some degree because of the background material existing when Hebrews was apparently written. It seems to have been written somewhere around AD 63 to AD 67, in that four or five year period. And that was an ominous period for Christians in the Mediterranean Sea Basin. Now our vitally necessary relationship with Jesus Christ toward our salvation is a major overall theme of the epistle to the Hebrews. And my question, as we begin is: Are we getting into gear for ramping up the intensity during which we can all give support to Jesus Christ in the causes that He has designed for us to carry out with our lives in these five years or so?
Now, during this just-past election campaign, we heard, I thought, a great deal regarding the subject of patriotism. Not about encouraging it abundantly, or perhaps even being prepared to make something in that direction. And so what did I hear? I heard its opposite. That is, a dearth of conversation of it being presented in a public way. I came away from this election period believing that patriotism is a subject almost virtually limited to being spoken of unfavorably by people, except for those with religious evangelical ties and/or leanings. They stood out because they did talk about it and they did castigate, mostly young people that they believe are falling short on their responsibilities to the nation. I also believe that I saw a few references to patriotism mentioned on a few other places on the Web, but apparently the thought processes that form the foundation of experiences that leads to the mindset that introduces attitudes that lead to patriotic thoughts being formed, was not having any success with very many.
Along the way, I became convinced that in America patriotic deeds and expression of them pretty much ended when World War II ended. My living experience goes back to that time and some of you others also have memories of what it was like in the United States of America during World War II. It was much different in regard the people's support of what the United States was involved in. And I believe that patriotic thoughts were not even beginning to form, especially in younger voter's minds. They began to diminish after World War II was ended.
So this lack of attention, thereof, of younger voters is far less, I believe, then what we have heard in other presidential elections, even in the fairly recent past. And I believe that there are valid and understandable reasons for that dearth. I believe that this lack was real because quite a number of ordinary citizens, those most especially on the sunset side of the age 50, have become painfully aware, in some cases, that a social movement combining conduct and politics, but titled Liberalism, has been named by many as the cause of patriotism's absence in so many young potential voter's minds now. I mean by that statement that it has been my observation, and is entirely limited to that, the level of comments decrying the lack of support evidence for use of patriotic-type words, attitudes, and conduct have seemed to come mostly from those of older age and therefore life's experience lived.
The comments that caught my attention seem to have been made by those 50 and above, as judged by the examples used to illustrate the commenters illustrations, and the criticisms clearly centered on younger examples used to illustrate the comments. Now the criticisms clearly centered on younger potential voters as being judged by the older voters as having almost overwhelmingly self-centered concerns. They were not concerned about the country and its falling apart in its conduct. They were just concerned about what they wanted and it was right before them. And that could be all by itself the major reason for the almost complete dropping of the subject of patriotism.
The term Liberal, or when it was used as a title Liberalism, is not a bad word all by itself. It only becomes bad, offensive, when used within a comparative statement regarding most especially conduct regarding one's country by one who holds the opposite opinion and these two go head-to- head at it. Now the criticisms seemed to me, in my analysis, to be centered on the older people's conclusions that the young people seem to have no concept whatever of the overall effect on others in the nation, if what they desired to get from what they believe the government should supply to them and they actually got it. But they did not—not yet.
Now whether the young people actually deserved what they wanted never seemed to enter the discussion on their side of their desire. Now, it is as though the older people were saying that the young people have overlooked the fact (I actually heard some say this) and failed to take into consideration that a government does not operate in a vacuum and what they desired was simply demanded. Do you know what it was they desired? Free university education. They made a lot of noise about it under Bernie Sanders. And he made a lot of promises. We shall see.
But what effect would that have on somebody 50 and above? Because who is going to pay for that? Well, it will just come out of the pocket of others. Stated more bluntly, it is that the young people failed to consider and to give serious thought to answer the question of where does the government get the resources to respond to what these young people desired? And what effect, what impact, will supplying this desire have on the rest of the population? Stated more bluntly by older people, is the practical reality that states: Do these young people not understand (again, I heard this voiced) that there really is no free lunch when the government is involved? Are not any of them willing to bite the bullet and sacrifice for the well being of the nation?
You might wonder where I got all these quotes. An awful lot of them came from WBT [radio] here in Charlotte. That is a real right wing station, I kid you not. And even those people who are on the program, moderating or whatever, they were very kind in their comments, but they were also very direct as to whose side they were on during the election. They were on the side of the conservatives. I mean, 24 hours a day. (Incidentally, WBT is the second oldest station in the United States and it is exceeded in age only by KDKA in Pittsburgh. And the first thing broadcast on KDKA when it started where the election results 1920, I believe it was. I do not think KDKA is any longer a right wing station at all.)
Now the American Constitution is worded in such a way in this nation that, by law, the people who make up this nation's population are the government and the reality learned from many, many past experiences is that following through with what the young people desire would create a financial operation that is nothing more than a huge national "robbing of Peter to pay Paul" scheme. Where are they going to get the money for this? Well, they are going to get it out of your pocket and of course they really do not think seriously about that.
And so I asked the question here, do we ever learn from past experiences? There is no other constitution like the American Constitution in all the nations of the world. It is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and those men who produced the Constitution sincerely meant those statements when they installed the thoughts that produced the American Constitution. They intended for the American people to willingly and actively participate within the government. But in the terms of practical day-to-day operations now with the population around 330,100 million people, that arrangement is an impossibility and so is the simple reason as to why the United States operates as a republic. But the many older citizens who lived in a different era with different expectations of behavior, it is as though these young people are born believing that the government is responsible for their daily care. And I believe it is partly because the parents were unable to make them work the way other generations had to do.
Now listen carefully. Patriotism can be defined as simply as being the love of one's country. That is not hard to remember. That is the definition. The love of one's country, or more literally the love of the Fatherland, as though all the nation's citizens are members of one family.
We are going to begin to analyze patriotism and what we must learn to do about the reality (listen carefully) that elements of patriotism must be part of a Christian's normal operating pattern. Must. Now do not jump ahead of me and try to figure that out, but you will see it applies. I will put this in and we will prove it as we go along: Jesus was the most patriotic individual who ever lived. He gave His life for the country and more besides. And He did it willingly. Nobody held Him back. Nobody stopped Him. He said, "I'm going to do it!" He set His mind and He did it.
Now remember that—the most patriotic individual who ever lived. And some of that patriotism has to be part of our life, only not necessarily patriotic to the United States of America or any other nation on earth, but patriotic to the Kingdom of God. Are you willing to give your life for the Kingdom of God?
Now, we are going to begin to analyze patriotism and what we must learn to do about the reality that elements of patriotism must be part of a Christian's normal operating pattern. Patriotism is by definition the love of one's country. Love is the key word in that definition. It is a biblical truth that love within any relationship has a strong influence toward influencing those who have it to act in the well being of the object of his or her love, or it is not really love. But love is part of the major element that is in patriotism.
Are you beginning to see the connection? Was there anybody any more loving than Jesus Christ? Did He act in the behalf of those He loved? Of course He did! And if we are going to follow Him, then patriotism, having the element of love, has to be part of our work as a human being, our labor, and it should be a labor of love that we expend on other people. The love function is a reality in God's way of life. So I ask, is there a higher and better ideal for truly moral people to strive for, that is, to expend even more love? For a Christian to strive for and to act accordingly in harmony with love.
Those definitions I gave you regarding patriotism near the beginning of this message are indeed correct. However, what we often tend to think of most strongly is what deed did the patriot actually perform to bring him or her to the notice of others? Since, by a correct definition, love of the Fatherland tends to influence the patriotic act, let us put this subject into a somewhat different context. And the question can easily become, what did the love of the patriot, that is, that the patriot had, that moved him or her to perform the act that it produced? And if it is truly patriotic, it has got love involved in it, and love was what stirred the person to do what he did.
Are you beginning to get the picture? What is it that stirs us to do acts of love within the congregation? What is it but love that moves a family to be unified together and to do acts of love within it? And we are patriotic to that family. But I think you can begin to see that patriotism keeps expanding out until, in some people's minds, it is love for the nation that they need to expend to hold their nation together. And during this election, the only ones I saw or heard that really were expressing love for the nation were the evangelicals. We do not feel the same way toward the United States as the evangelicals do. But I will tell you this, we better feel that way toward the Kingdom of God because that is the way Jesus was. But His love expanded out to all of mankind.
So now patriotism, because of the element of love involved as a powerfully persuasive proclivity to inspire its possessor, to motivate them at very high risk to themselves, to dedicate their possessions, including their very lives or their time or part of their body or to make highly sacrificial risk of their possessions, even to the point of the giving of one's life for the overall well being of another single person, perhaps a family, perhaps a village, or perhaps the citizenry of the entire nation for that matter.
This subject has direct connections to us, as a part of the church of God, because the church is a tool (now listen to these elements), an instrument of the Kingdom of God—there is the nation right there—and the Kingdom of God is a nation being formed. And this tool is being captained, as it were, by Jesus Christ and He is our King. And thus, within the gospel, the elements of a nation are all in place spiritually and unitedly bound together under Him, carrying out our various responsibilities in the operations our Savior sees as needful for us at this time. So that is why I am asking you if you are gearing up to carry out the responsibilities that Jesus Christ, our King, has positioned us to do now.
You know something brethren, patriotic acts often take place in warfare. Well, the church, a tool of the Kingdom of God, has demons making war against it in order to kill us off spiritually. All the parts are there. Are we going to be patriotic? Because we already have the number one tool needed. It is called L O V E.
Now let us notice some foundational instructions for carrying out our responsibilities as a team, a work for force necessary to accomplish our assignments at this time within our calling. I deliberately used the word team because that is exactly what we are. I want you to turn in your Bible to I Corinthians chapter 12, verses 1 through 14. In a way this might be the most important section of the Scriptures that I am going to use because I am going to hopefully show you that we have all the tools needed to be a patriot. Does anybody know what the main tool we need is? The Spirit of God. It is that simple. Do we not all have that? We do. In order to form the church, what did God do? He gave people His Spirit! And what tool is He using to perform acts on behalf of glorifying God? Same thing. We all have it. We cannot run from it.
I Corinthians 12:1-14 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that when you were Gentiles, you were led astray to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God [which we do speak by the Spirit of God] says Jesus is accursed, and no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. [He means honestly say it. We can say it honestly because we have the Spirit and He is our Lord. He is the Captain of our salvation.] Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries [or services], but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but the same God who works all in all. [Check on these as you go down the list because I am removing any excuses by means of scriptures that we do not have the ability to be a patriot.]
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things [they are all adjuncts, productions of the Spirit of God, if we have it], distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one [meaning the human body] and has many members, but all members of that one body, being many, are one body [He is saying here, the whole body of a human being is unified for carrying out its functions. And so Paul is using that. He said, that is the way the Spirit of God is and that is the way the Christian is. They are one body. What are we? We are the body of Jesus Christ is the way we are described.], so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jew or Greek, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
Now Christ is putting together the team that is at this point not being used for the conversion of the world, but it is being used as He intends. God intends, His Father intends that it be used at this time, but it very definitely has and is continuing to be put together for strengthening the church's practical spiritual structure as things now are. When the time comes to convert the world, that is what we will do. We will receive the gifts that are needful to do that. But we already have the foundation of it because we have the Holy Spirit, and through Jesus Christ, we will shift gears, as it were, to that structural formation.
Right now though, it is for the strengthening of the church's practical spiritual structure as things now are. If things change in the world, God will change us and they are as God orders them to be. And that structure is not rigidly enforced, meaning the structure of the people within it is not rigidly enforced, but since Christ is in it, it is organized for the spiritual strengthening of itself and the church's direction is as God positions it to be and the times that we are living in.
Before we move on from I Corinthians 12, I want to touch on a few facts to remind you. One, that a form of love drives patriotic acts and two, do we have sufficient love to create the acts that are needed at this time within the church? This is one that we have to think seriously about because in one sense, it is love that drives the engine in us always in operating within God's Family. Not just toward the people in the Family, but also the people in the world. Is God driven, if I can put it that way, by love? Jesus Christ, did He do what He did driven by His love for His creation? Are we not supposed to go in the same direction as Jesus Christ? Love should be driving us too in our acts toward, not just people in the church, but people in the world as well.
I want you to turn with me to the book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 1-4. I am going here only for clarifying something that we may hold within us.
Acts 2:1-4 Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one rested upon each of them. And they were all filled [notice, they were all filled] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was gave them utterance.
What we have here is the real beginning of the church through the receiving of the power needed to carry out its functions within the work of God. In this demonstration there are two elements there. One is a package of temporary signs. Now what were the temporary signs? It was people speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. There also appeared at that time, tongues of fire. There was a mighty rushing wind. That is one portion of the signs. What was the other portion? It was the gifts that we are given at the same time.
Here is what I want you to learn. Part of the signs were temporary and they passed away, they were gone. But that is not the same thing in regard to the gifts. That was 2,000 years ago. Is Christ still giving the gifts of God's Holy Spirit? Absolutely, that has never ended. And what did He do? He filled them with the Spirit of God so that they could function within the church that God was forming, made up of His own people. And that, brethren, has never ended! That is a universal gift that God gives to everyone that is honestly repentant and baptized. He gives that person His Spirit the same as He gave it to those people there.
Therefore, what I want you to see is we cannot say that we do not have the Spirit of God or we do not have enough of the Spirit of God because Christ will always make it up if we are truly His. And what is the main gift that He gives? Love.
Now, do we have enough love to accomplish what Jesus Christ wants to do at this period of time in the history of the United States where things are falling apart? Absolutely. The love is there to enable us to do it because He does not fail. And He gives His church gifts.
So what we have here is a showing of one package that was temporary and a second package of gifts universally given to enable family members to function within the church spiritually. The ability, the power, the right to function within the church has been given. Now, God gives these gifts to this very day. How many times did Jesus say within the Scriptures, "You must love one another." "You've got to love one another." He must say it at least 4, 5, 6, 7 times that He repeats that mantra to the people in the church. We have got to love one another. So God gives these gifts to this very day and therefore there is sufficient love to follow Christ's commands.
Now, will we sacrifice ourselves to do so that we have enough love (we do) to do the patriotic thing? So we need not worry regarding having the power to make the sacrifices necessary because the Holy Spirit has given us the basis of Christ's promise. It is in us. Christ promises are not empty. The promises may be a lack of faith, a lack of believing.
Let us go to John chapter 13, verses 34 and 35. We were in this general area last night.
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another [Here is the part that is new.]; as I have loved you."
He has really set what we are aiming for high. "A new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved you!" Now He says that knowing we can meet it because we have the same Spirit that He does. "And that you also love one another."
John 13:35 "By this [by the love, the demonstration of love within the Family, God's Family] all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
What a target! So that the world knows that we love one another. I will tell you, He really set the target high. He did.
I chose this saying of Jesus for two reasons. The first is, He makes very clear the level of love we are expected to work toward is the level He expended toward us. Oh, I will tell you, He really sets the target high and He expects a lot from us because we have the same Spirit that He does. And so He makes sure we understand from all the illustrations of His activities recorded in the Book during His three and one-half years of preaching, the teaching is available. That is the way Jesus demonstrated His love. It was not just that He did not sin, which is somewhat awesome all by itself, but I want you to notice the way that Peter describes Jesus in Acts 10 because it is very interesting and we are going to go to verse 34.
Acts 10:34-38 Then Peter opened his mouth [remember he is at Cornelius' home and he is preaching regarding the conversion of Cornelius, his family, and house guests], "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. [Gentiles are being converted.] But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power [now listen to this next phrase], who went about doing good."
That is how Peter describes the life of Jesus Christ. I want us to pick up on this: By means of the Spirit of God, He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed in their lives. Now, this may sound blasphemous—it is blasphemous—but it is not. Sinlessness is great. But, in a sense, sinlessness accomplishes very little for you and me. What does it accomplish? It does some good for us. But what God really desires is doing good. That is what He gave us His Spirit for. It is not just to be sinless, because, in a way, sinlessness is inactive. What He does want is good works. That is what He wants. And that is the way Peter described Jesus. He went around doing good! That really pleases God because it is the display of His attitude, His Spirit, the way He is in life.
God does good. In a sense, it ends all arguments. What does God want from us? He wants us to do good! And in that case, sinlessness is good because it is not doing bad against others, at the very least.
Let us go to John the 15th chapter. So, if you are ever in a tight spot and you do not know what to do, just do good. I am not kidding! That is doing the right thing in the circumstance. At the very least, you do not want to do evil. But if you can think of something good to do, do it. It is very likely that in such a circumstance, God will give you the thought about what to do.
We just read about the level of obedience that God wants. Now, here it is in John 15:
John 15:12-13 "This is My commandment, that you love one another [here it is again] as I have loved you. [Brethren, that is a very highly-aimed goal.] Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life [as a patriot]."
No, that is not in there, but that is what the patriot does. He lays down his life in service and does good thereby. So, this teaching by Jesus illustrates a level of caring concern for each person, not just the people in the church—for each person—but especially within the Family of God. And that is difficult to comprehend, that is, to love to the level that Jesus did, but Christ taught it as the operational level that exists between the Father and Him. We will get to that in just a little bit. But I will tell you, brethren, we have to shoot high here because we have to love each other the way the Father loved the Son.
Christ taught it as the operational level that exists between the Father and Him. It is the very same level that He expects us to strive for in our relationships within the Family team.
Now a good shepherd relationship with each sheep was individualistic and that is Christ's relationship with us. He takes care of us with an intimacy that we may not be able to grasp and He expects us to not be distant from our brethren. So within the teaching, the level of caring within it reaches for that which we might expect to be given to us personally. I think, brethren, that we have a great deal more love than we think we do. The resources are there.
John 10:14-15 "I am the good shepherd [Jesus says]; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."
This is something that we have read often, but it is very likely we did not catch what Jesus said. The operational level between us and Jesus has to be the same as the operational level as the Father with the Son. "I am the good shepherd and I know My sheep." That is what a shepherd has to do. He has to know his own, and Jesus does. He knows us inside and out, backwards and forwards, up and down. And unfortunately, we do not know Him as well, but we need to shoot for it. "And am known by My own," even as, the same level as the Father knows Me. That is what it says there. That is mind boggling that we have to come to know Jesus Christ, to know Him the way the Father knows the Son. Ah!
Does God expect us to love one another? Absolutely! Is the love there available for us to do patriotic deeds? Absolutely it is there! And He wants them done in behalf of His Family.
Greater love has no one but to lay down his life for his brother. Do you think that patriotism has a part in Christianity? Absolutely. And it has a part because it is driven by love. We have no excuse to not love our brethren and we are to reach up, as it were, and love him to the same level that the Father loves the Son. Oh, are we falling short or what? There has to be a rebirth of zeal, of the dynamic aspect of the love that Jesus Christ has for us.
Let me read John 10 and verses 14 and 15 again, because they are mind boggling. "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."
So the supremely important matter in the relationship begins to become the level of our love for the Father and the Son which will spread out, God will ensure it will spread out to our brethren. We are to give them the same kind, the same level of unselfish care as Jesus gives those that He knows. And we are to do it because of our relationship with Him being compared only to the relationship between the Father and Himself.
Now when we think of Christ's relationship with us, it might impress our minds as to the amazing gifts of intellect, understanding, and skills that He was given when He was born. How great those gifts that were given and yet, what is He doing? He is spending it on us! That is what He is doing. He is spending those gifts on us. Now, He could have gone on to some other enterprise with all the gifts that He was given by the Father. But He did not. He spent it working for His Dad. That is kind of common but that is exactly what He is doing, and we receive the benefit of all those gifts that He was given.
Along with those gifts was also the energy and the skill maybe to build some sort of a business or political empire. Those things were within His grasp. But He spent it on you and me. So here is the question: Were we worth it? We need to seriously consider this.
I John 3:13-16 Do not be marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. [Boy, pick up on that one.] He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. [verse 16 has a definition] By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
There is no way to get away from it. We are given the love by God. We are loved by Him the way He loves the Son. The Son loves us and He knows all the intricacies of our lives. And we have this Book that shows us multiple examples of how Jesus showed His love for mankind. It says here, "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us." And as a result of that, "we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
So our relationship with Christ must be, not one of rivalry within the brethren, but rather loving unity, trust for each other without suspicion that someone within the group is trying to bring down your reputation, and obedience to Christ without bragging self-assertion. Jesus was the epitome of patriotism, and patriotism is energized by love. And, I might add, that His giving His life has an important aspect to it that no other patriotic action in the history of man has that makes it unique in history.
There are probably an awful lot of people who have given their lives as a patriotic action in warfare from multitudes of nations spread here and there, but no ordinary human has reached the level of patriotic acts He did. And the apostle Paul directly mentions it. I was going to wait until a little bit later to touch on this, but I am going to tell you what it is right now so that you will know and understand, no patriotic action reached out to His.
Here is what Christ did that nobody else has ever accomplished. You know what it is? Even though multitudes of people have given their lives to others, what Christ did that nobody else has done, because people who do those acts do it because they have a favorable opinion of the person that they are doing it for. And usually what has happened is it is sort of a payback for what they have done in behalf of the one who was the patriot and gives his life. Ah-ha. Christ did not do that.
Paul tells us the answer of what Christ did that nobody else has ever done, and that is, He died for us while we were yet sinners. We had never done a good thing for Jesus Christ that He had to pay back by dying for us. He died for us before we did anything good for Him! As Paul puts it: "While we were yet sinners," He died for the most evil people on the face of the earth. He gave His life. Nobody has ever come close to that. And that is the way we were. We have not given our life for anybody, but Christ has already given His life for us. What did I ever do in behalf of Christ before I was converted? I do not think there was ever anything. I never did anything good towards Him that way.
That is why Peter said, what did Christ do? How did he describe Him? Well, he went around Judea doing good. Everything He did was good because He loved those people despite what they were, and he ached for what they were, and He was looking forward to the time so that He did what He did, so that He would have the opportunity to straighten them out and give them glory.
He did that for you and me while we were kicking Him in the shins, while were shooting at Him, feeding Him poison, you name it. We were doing all kinds of bad things, not in any way gaining His favor. He did it while we were kicking Him.