I know it’s Friday because I’ve lived all the other days this week. Friday is now my “lived experience.” Let’s see if there are any Takes.
Matt sent me this sometime yesterday and I started to read it and then stopped because I felt sick. Just when I start to feel cheerful about human nature, I am immediately thrown off course by the worst kind of examples of how terrible it can really be.
I feel like I talk about sin a lot on this blog, and have a pretty low view of human ability. This makes me seem like a mean person who doesn’t love people. After all, if you love people, don’t you have to think well of them? Actually, not so much. Love doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry. Love means reaching out to people in all the darkness of life and not writing them off forever.
I think it is sort of clever of God to arrange for Valentine’s Day to fall on Sunday this year, the day when many churches remember him being transfigured up on that mountain, or really hill. Peter, James, and John got to catch a glimpse of his glory, of who he really is, even though, when they went back down, they would sin grievously, and disappoint themselves most of all. In all of the mess of their own wickedness, he kept showing himself to them.
God’s revelation of himself is so unlike ours. Ours is full to the brim of artifice, of deceit, of darkness. When you try to let someone else know who you are, if you’re going to be really truthful, which is a good idea, you’re going to find that most of what you have to show is not very good, and some of it is indeed very very bad. This is scary and terrible, so of course you will try to dress it up so that it won’t be so painful to reveal.
The offer of the gospel is to come into the light of Jesus and tell the truth about yourself. To stop lying and hiding. To simply say, “I blew it. I myself blew it and not another. I can’t do anything to fix any of the pile of things I’ve done. I can’t stop the sins of my mind and the sins of my hands and the sins of my heart. Please forgive me.”
And then Jesus, with the great love with which he loves you, says, “I know.” But not the “I know” of reserved power that keeps you at arm’s length. It is the “I know” of being able to do something about it. Of taking all that dark wickedness on to himself and doing something about it. The something being that he takes the penalty due to you onto himself all the way into hell and leaves it there, so that you can go free.
The lovely thing about the gospel is that you don’t have to minimize the great horror of sin. You don’t have to say things like, “maybe it wasn’t that bad,” or, “maybe no one was hurt too much.” No, it was, and is. The evil is so great that it cannot be mended by human hands. Only God can reach into the darkness to restore what was broken, to bind up the wounded, to forgive the sinner. And he does. he does it over and over again.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Go check out more takes.