I moved to Warner Robins, Georgia in 1987. One of the most excellent things about that move was the swimming pool that came with the house my parents bought. I got the privilege of vacuuming it with this triangular brush thing that fitted on the end of a telescoping pole. There was this 30 or 40-foot long hose that connected the brush to the pool pump and up through that hose would go all the debris.
After the vacuuming was done I would dump all of the water out of the hose back into the pool and then I was supposed to put it into a big rubber trash can for storage. Sometimes, though, I left it lying on the ground by the pool which gave me another idea. What if I could use that hose to breathe through? Maybe by pulling air into my lungs through the hose, I could stay underwater a long time.
Well, it did not work very well. It was crazy hard work to pull air in through the tube. If you want to know more check out this link.1 The water pressure on your chest ends up being really heavy and your chest has to push out to pull the air in. I think I wanted to be able to stay on the bottom of the pool but could never get very deep with this approach.
You know what felt good? To surface and just breath air normally. Ahhh….so much better! I did not have to think those words I just felt them. I can also remember trying to breathe under the sheets or through a thin pillow. That is a different problem than hose-breathing but generates the same relief when you pull down the covers. Yep, guys do weird things; it’s who we are, but occasionally we figure things out along the way.
Being good by yourself is like breathing through a hose.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9–ESV)
God made our lungs to work a certain way and it did not include plastic hoses. God also made our lives to work a certain way and it did not include sin. Once sin came in we began the process of drowning. Now our bodies can go on and on slow-drowning in sin.
When God came to Abram way back long ago in the city of Ur he threw humanity a pool hose. He also pulled people close to the surface of the water. Breathing through a hose works if you are not too deep.
When God sent his Son, though, he pulled us all the way out of the water. It is like he sat us on the edge of the pool. Life his way in his strength is that “Ahhh….so much better!” That is what verse 9 means.
You also see better when you get out of the pool.
Our eyes were designed to have air in front of them, not water (other than the 3-micrometer thick tear film, but that is another story). When you sit on the side of the pool your vision is a lot better as well. So when God sent Jesus into the world his life was the example we are to follow, to emulate. By seeing his way of life we get the “Aha, that’s how we are supposed to live.” That is a little different than the “Ahhh….so much better.”
The next verse reminds us that his death on the cross is what really took care of the problem of our sins (rebellion against our maker). Being good does not get us to heaven; God’s payment of sin’s penalty is needed for that. Some folks figure they can be good enough on their own to climb back into God’s house (heaven), but it does not really work that way.
Both the “Ahhh….so much better” which we get when we accept God’s offer of salvation and the “Aha, that’s how we are supposed to live” are important.