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Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Is Your Life Killing You?

From last week’s episode…

When the standard is Jesus Christ, “pretty good” is not good enough.

The question “Why not?” seems like a reasonable retort.

Well, let’s talk about sin. If you don’t get sin, then you won’t get salvation. So what is sin and why is it a problem? A metaphor I’ve heard before is about water. If you take a bottle of water, fresh out of the vending machine, it probably won’t kill you. It should be pure and clean and life-giving.

Credit: John (https://flic.kr/p/2F7ARD).

Credit: John (https://flic.kr/p/2F7ARD).

Take that same bottle and add a drop of fatal poisonIs  a la Romeo and Juliet. Now, what would I have to pay you to drink that bottle? To take even one sip? Would $100 be enough? What about $1,000? More? If you’re a sane person, no sum of money could make you drink that water. It’s corrupted. One drink:one death. You’d leave that money as an inheritance to somebody.

But it’s just one poisonous drop. So the water is still pretty good, right? Like 99% at least. But that’s not good enough to drink. That’s not life-giving.

The same goes for humans. One sin:one death. That’s the ratio. No matter how little the sin is, how small the corruption, it’s still poison.

So how about that list I wrote last week? What may look trivial to you is much more than one drop of poison to God. How much do you think I’d have to pay God to drink all that poison?

By his grace, I don’t have to. He already did in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus drank it all. My sin. Your sin. The sin of that bully in sixth grade. The sin of every dictator and tyrant that has ever ruled. He drank it up and died for it. In the process, we were given the choice to become one with God. Jesus’ sacrifice means we can be freed of our sin, cleansed, and brought into unity with the divine. The greatest miracle ever witnessed. That is what Good Friday is about.

What’s the catch? There is no such thing as a one-way relationship. Every good gift must be accepted. This redemption has to be mutual. Release your grip on that contaminated water bottle. Give it up to him whom gave up all for you. God came down to your level and stretched out his arms on the cross. Will you run into those arms or away from him? It’s your choice.

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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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Confessions of the Forgiven

Christianity is not about being good.

This won’t be news to you, but we Christians often pretend to have everything together even though we mess up as much, if not worse, than other people. My pastor recently said if we were more honest about our faults, rather than always trying to cover them up and put on a good show, then maybe more people would realize Christianity is not about being a good person and more about receiving forgiveness.

It made me wonder what I’ve hid from view so that I would give a better impression to people. Sometimes I have to laugh when friends describe their perspective of me because I realize what aspects of my character they don’t know. Intentionally or not, I’ve filtered what they see.

So let me make myself clear: I only look healthy from the outside. Jesus meant me when he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17).

As much as I look put together, I often:

  • Become easily jealous if someone doesn’t have time for me because they are busy with their other friends.
  • Resent when my housemates forget to invite me along in their fun plans even if I wouldn’t want to go anyway.
  • Lose patience with kids at my agency who complain about being bored because they don’t like (or won’t try) any of the cool activities I have planned.
  • Judge program participants who don’t respond to my repeated emails and phone calls.
  • Consume far too much sugar on a daily basis in order to care for the body God gave me.
  • Obsess over my interactions with attractive young men, reliving them in my memory and fantasizing about what future fairy-tale scenarios may result.
  • Tithe to my church only on the rare occasion that I am not fearful of bankruptcy and yet buy coffee and ice cream on a whim.
  • Pray inconsistently and often forget to pray for others even when they have requested prayers.
  • Stop myself from talking about Jesus when I feel like it would make the conversation awkward or even produce a disagreement.
  • Resist telling people what the Bible says is truth because I’m worried about appearing judgmental or unaccepting.

Wow. Did I just publish all that for the world to see? Hopefully I won’t regret it.

Depending on your standards, you may say none of the points on my list—or very few—make me a sick person in need of a Savior. These are just the typical struggles of any normal person. You might relate to more than a few. And since I didn’t name any of the “biggies”—say lying, stealing, or adultery—then I am a pretty good person overall, right?

The thing is…it doesn’t matter how I rank in the line-up of all human beings living and dead. This isn’t a beauty pageant, and three lucky girls won’t go home with flowers and crowns.

All that matters is what God sees. He is the one judge, and his standard is perfection. So he judges all people using the standard of one, the only perfect human to have ever lived. The only one who was 100% human and 100% divine. The only one since Adam and Eve who was born free of sin. And the only one to live in perfect obedience to God’s will, not sinning even once, not even on the point of death.

When the standard is Jesus Christ, “pretty good” is not good enough.

Thankfully, there’s such a thing as forgiveness. More on this next week.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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God Doesn’t Leave Voicemail

Imagine you have a long-distance best friend. Maybe you already do, so it isn’t hard to imagine. Anyway, it’s been a while since your last visit, and your friend decides to give you a call. You don’t answer. They text instead. You don’t respond. After a week goes by, they stalk your Facebook wall to make sure you’re alive. Yep, you posted at work that morning about your delicious breakfast burrito. There are pictures from the last night when you went bowling with some friends. Your friend decides your phone must be broken and posts to your wall an inside joke about a porcupine, knowing you’re the only person who would get it.

No reply.

Months go by. Your friend eventually gives up trying to reach you.

One day you see a porcupine on TV. You remember your friend and decide to give them a call. They don’t answer. You try again but it goes directly to voicemail. As time goes on without reciprocation, you first feel annoyed. Then irritated. You wonder if they are intentionally ignoring you. Maybe they don’t care about you anymore. Maybe they never did.

On the other end of the line, your hurt friend watches their phone ring and wonders if they want to answer after you wouldn’t answer their own calls. After being neglected for long months, why should they pick up where you left off? Why should they still call you a friend?

Credit: Robert S. Digby, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/7rKqYa)

Credit: Robert S. Digby, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/7rKqYa)

In Isaiah 65, the Lord declares curses on his people of Israel who had rebelled against him and served other gods. They abandoned him. They ignored him. So God replies, “I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me” (v. 12). But for the one who obeys the one true God, he promises to bless them and “the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes” (v. 16). He then describes a day of “new heavens and a new earth” when rejoicing will replace all suffering. In that day, he says, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (v. 17, 24).

When times are good, we often let God’s calls go to voicemail. We assume we’re doing fine on our own and that he’ll still be there when we need him. Then a crisis appears, and we wonder why God isn’t answering our cries for help. We ask why God is silent.

Now I don’t want to imply God is a resentful friend harboring old hurts, but why should we expect to hear from him after ignoring his attempts at contact? Is that a healthy relationship? If we’re not listening to his voice in good times, how are we going to receive a word from him when times are hard? God might not be the one who grew distant.

Do you need to apologize and ask forgiveness for ignoring God?

“Please leave a message after the tone.”

Beep.

“Hi, friend. Sorry I’ve been a jerk. I should have returned your calls. Will you forgive me?”

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Other thoughts

 

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