Genesis 38 shows that God doesn’t function by the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord put Judah’s son, Er, to death because he was evil. This left his wife, Tamar, alone without a child or heir. Er’s brother, Onan, should’ve fathered a child with Tamar but didn’t. The Lord also put Onan to death. Judah did nothing to ensure the continuance of his line through Tamar. So she posed as a prostitute; Judah slept with her and fathered twins, Perez and Zerah. David, and later Christ, descended from Perez.
At this critical juncture, where Judah’s sons had no sons, the messianic line could’ve fallen. Yet it was preserved through a woman who turned tricks to trick her father-in-law into impregnating her. Not a shining example of godliness, to be sure. Christ’s genealogy is full of those who fall short…way short.
We see from this that God places Christ, the seed, in flawed, fallen humanity. We carry and birth Him, despite our absolute unsuitability. What is good, pure, and divinely purposeful in our souls is all from God. Our best moments contributed nothing to conceiving the divine in us. Our worst moments do nothing to abort the offspring of God stirring within.
All the usual words—grace, undeserved favor, charity—are brought forward and fail to describe the ways of God. The kingdom of God grows within of itself, whether we lay down or get up (Mark 4:26-29).
Uncoupling the growth of the kingdom—Christ in us—from what we do has welcome effects. One, we are less anxious about our own performance; our godliness is not the measure of our God. Two, we are less anxious about a world devoid of God. The world’s godlessness is not a measure of our God. It is in our ungodly souls and in this godless world that Christ was conceived; here He grows; from here He will come forth.
When we look at our selves and a world fallen far short of God’s glory, we can have nothing but hope—if we believe the scriptures. In them we see a God who draws wine from rinse-water, beauty from ashes, life from death.