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Welcome to The Forgiveness Party – May I Take Your Cloak of Shame?

Welcome to The Forgiveness Party – May I Take Your Cloak of Shame? November 3, 2021

Excuse me, what?

Welcome to the forgiveness party. I’m JC LaChette, and I am a bad Christian.

the question of forgiveness
image via Pixabay

I don’t go to church as often as I should. I divorced and remarried. I’ve broken all of the commandments except one – unless you count the bugs I’ve stepped on. I’m crass. I cuss. You’ll see me wearing too much makeup and sometimes black lipstick. I don’t dress modestly. I’m guilty of both sloth and gluttony, as one can easily see by the size of my arse. I listen to death metal and watch scary movies. I play Dungeons and Dragons and video games. Humility definitely isn’t my strong point. When I was single, I thought of sex as a hobby. I don’t think the LGBTQ+ community is on a fast track to hell. 

And I don’t think the Old Testament is – GASP! – 100% historical fact. 

Quite frankly, I’m what one might call the antithesis of a “good Christian.” I am the “freak” in Jesus Freak.

I don’t fit into the box that the misinterpretations of the Bible have led humans to build. In fact, most people who saw me on the street would never even associate me with Christianity. 

I have a few questions for those people.

  • Why shouldn’t someone who is a Christian look, act, and think like I do? 
  • How come a faith that was intended to be a refuge for all who sought it, has become so indoctrinated by organized religion that the people who need it don’t feel welcome?
  • Why are those who are “different” and wish to walk with Jesus made to feel that it will be so difficult to do so? 
  • And why, pray tell, are people made to feel as though they have to change everything they are just to be forgiven and accepted?

News flash: There are no good answers to those questions. 

 

We are all invited to the forgiveness party.

forgiveness party
It’s a forgiveness party!

Matthew 11:28-30 says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Notice the distinct lack of words like “except,” “but,” or “only.” It says all who are weary and burdened. Not “all except those of you who listen to death metal;” “all but the divorcees,” or “Only those who don’t wear makeup.” It says all. That word doesn’t leave much room for exceptions. 

We’ve lost something in translation. Jesus has no stipulations for who could learn from him. He has no checklists for those who would be a “good fit.” He just loves everyone, unconditionally. And while there is a whole bunch of ambiguity in the Bible, there are some passages that are abundantly clear. In Romans 10 we are told the key to being saved:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

Again, the statement is pretty unambiguous. There are two – and only two – causes and effects:

  1. Cause: Openly declare Jesus is Lord.  Effect: You will be saved.
  2. Cause: Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Effect: You are made right with God. 

Those effects are pretty emphatic, don’t you think?

You. WILL. Be. Saved.

There are no caveats, footnotes, exceptions, additional requirements. There is no fine print. 

 

This is not a “get out of hell free” card.

forgiveness removes shame
Take off the cloak of shame.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am not handing out hall passes for every sin and immorality. The point here is that the key to heaven is Jesus, not how few sins we commit. But sin affects the soul and takes away the peace of Jesus – especially when we become slaves to our sin. I have made more poor, sinful, immoral decisions than I care to admit – but Jesus took away the shame and gave me hope. It was through all these struggles and bad decisions that I learned what it meant to be distant from Jesus – and then what it felt like to run full-speed back into his arms. He never meant for us to walk around cloaked in shame in regret.  He wanted us to walk around clothed in his light.

During the most recent Homebrewed Christianity podcast, they discussed the Prodigal Son parable and it really struck me. We think it’s about how awesome it is that the younger son repented and returned home. Instead, we should focus on the older brother – the one who is so busy letting everyone know how perfect he has been that he forgets to show up for the “forgiveness party.” 

I may listen to death metal, or wear black lipstick, or dress immodestly, but I hold none of those things as idols. They’re simply a preference – an artistic choice if you will. And none of those choices make me exempt from the love of the Savior. I’m already at the forgiveness party.

 

If you’re a freak like me…

We seem to forget that Jesus came for a reason – and that reason wasn’t to save the “perfect” people – it was to provide refuge for the imperfect. Christians should be the sigh of relief for struggling people, not another point of contention. We should be the light that shines on a love that doesn’t see what we are wearing or hear what we listen to or watch what we stream on Netflix. We should be the soft place to fall for those who need a place to go, a feeling of comfort, a yoke that is light on their weary shoulders. They’re all on the invitation to the forgiveness party – we just have to show them the host. 

So while I – or you – may not “look the part,” there is something to be said for a Christian misfit. In fact, I can think of a dozen or so misfits who spread the story of Jesus to a weary world. They were murderers, liars, thieves, doubters, addicts, prostitutes, and cowards – and Jesus loved and forgave them. Every single one of them. These misfits were the freaks and outcasts wandering the globe telling people about this savior who died and rose again. These weirdos were handing out the invitations to the forgiveness party. They were the original Jesus Freaks, and I am so glad I’m one of them.

Perhaps I’m not such a “bad Christian” after all.

 

 

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About JC LaChette
JC LaChette is a wife, author, music lover, and weirdo. She has degrees and coursework in communications, English lit, business, accounting, neuroscience, cognitive psych, and upper-level math. She is a firm believer that Christians don't have to fit a particular mold, and the paradoxical Christians are the most fun. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with the love of her life, reading, thinking, watching Frasier for the millionth time, and buying & wearing new makeup. You can read more about the author here.

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