Houston, we have a problem. You all remember when and why those words were spoken. But in all seriousness, we have a problem. We who inhabit the Earth have a problem. And that problem is sin. We live in a world defined by brokenness and sin. We don’t like to admit it, but it’ the truth. We are all sinners. We are all too familiar with what brokenness feels like.

Paul, in many of his writings, gives lists of sins people commit, so let’s go through the list and see where we end up. Now, everyone at home, do me a favor and stand up, and stay standing until directed otherwise.

If you have murdered someone, go ahead and sit down. If you have ever committed adultery, have a seat. By now, probably most of us are still standing. What about coveting? Have you ever looked across the street to see the neighbor’s new sports car, or perfect landscaping, or scrolled through Facebook and seen all the things certain friends have going on in their life and thought, “Gee, I wish I had that”? Go ahead and have a seat.

Have you ever told a white lie? Or said something hurtful to someone else? Or talked back to your parents? What about gossip? You’re out.

But the point is, we all fall short of the glory of God, there are no exceptions. We all have a problem.

But there is good news! You see, there is a solution to our problem. The solution to the problem of sin is grace. It’s grace, for it is by grace alone we are saved. Yes, the grace of God is the one force in our lives more powerful than sin, with the power to overcome sin and even death itself. And we see this grace that solves the problem in the death of Jesus Christ. As Christ was hoisted up on that old rugged cross, the one who was blameless, the one who was without sin, took the sins of the world upon himself. And, in doing so, Jesus did what righteousness required and overcame sin’s power over us along with all the consequences of our sin. And we have access to this grace shown to us on the cross by faith, by believing.

That brings us to justifying grace. Justifying grace is the forgiveness that comes to us when we accept Christ as our Savior, when we say yes to Jesus, yes to salvation. I’m reminded of the story of Nicodemus found in John Chapter 3. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and came to meet with Jesus in the middle of the night. But he come by night in part because he was afraid. He feared the consequence he might face among his peers if he were to be seen with Jesus. You see, in John’s gospel, light represents the realm of belief and darkness the realm of disbelief. So, when Jesus says to Nicodemus, “This is the judgment, that the light has come into world and people loved darkness more than the light,” these words send us back to the beginning of Chapter 3. Jesus’ words are aimed directly at Nicodemus: “Will you continue in darkness or will you come to the light?”

The moment of judgment, the moment of crisis, and, in fact, the moment of decision for Nicodemus, and for us, is in the encounter with Jesus. This is Jesus extending justifying grace to Nicodemus.

Andrew Devereaux is the pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Kingman, AZ.