Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Good News

Ok, so I had a thought today in the car as I was driving home from work. It hit me that most of my clients have a hard time taking complete responsibility for their actions. Sure, they'll take partial responsibility and be very sure to point out that they are owning up, but it's rarely complete responsibility.

And I think we're all like that to a certain degree. It started with Adam and Eve. Why'd you eat the apple? 'The woman you gave me told me to.' Why'd you eat the apple? 'The serpent told me to.'

It's clearly been going on for a long time. It's part of our make up. When we find ourselves in a jam, we often will blame the circumstances instead of ourselves. I often hear at work, 'I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.' Right. Well, who put you there? Had you turned right instead of left, you wouldn't have pulled out in front of the cop and been charged with dwi. So it's left's fault?

Where am I going with all this? Well, later in the day I realized that from time to time I forget exactly what the good news of Jesus means. I actually find myself thinking...what's so great about Christianity again? And I find myself trying to find a way to formulate it into a clear concise message. And it's not easy. But it should be. And then I realized what I was struggling with.

My culture.

The same reason my clients have a hard time accepting fault and the impending punishment, is the same reason I forget how special a gift Christ has given me. In my culture, it is hard for me to take responsibility for what a miserable sinner I am. I have been brought up to imagine God as a loving father who's always rooting for me despite my failures.

But that isn't the God of my Bible. The God of scripture hates sin, and in fact...he hates the person who chooses to live a life of sin. (Psalm 5:5) He is a God of justice who doles out punishment and love. I don't like to think about God being angry with me, much less hating my choices and lifestyle. I don't like to completely own my brokenness in the face of God's perfection. I don't like to consider the times I choose to turn my back on him and purposefully sin. I would prefer to be blind to the harsh reality of justice.

God is holy above all: 1 Sam 2:2
He is righteous: Duet 32:4
Just in his wrath Rom 3:5,6
God's eyes are too pure to look upon evil, He can't tolerate wrong: Hab 1:13
The arrogant can't stand in His presence, He hates all who do wrong: Ps 5:5
Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, but feel God's wrath: John 3:36

Genesis 8:21 indicates that our heart holds the propensity for evil from the time we are born. Eph 4:18 says our understanding is darkened and our hearts are like stone. 2 Cor 4:4 says we can't even see Christ most of the time because of our spiritual blindness.

Is it any wonder that we would prefer to be blind to the reality of our flaws and our impending punishment? My job is interesting because I get to view a little piece of my spiritual brokenness, every time I have a client come in and explain to me why they don't really deserve their impending judgment. They provide me with a glimpse into my own soul, a microcosm for my misunderstanding as to why I need to be saved. No one wants to really fess up to their mistakes.

And that is exactly why I forget the good news of Christ. What exactly is the message? What exactly did he do for me? Well, in order to get the message, one has to understand the depth of the bind that they find themselves in. The spiritually blind have no idea that they are in some seriously eternal jeopardy. They have no idea what's at stake. So if there's nothing to take responsibility for, then there's no need for a savior. In fact, even when you've been saved, sometimes you can forget what a blessing it was to be pulled out of the mire. Because you can't imagine how close to the precipice you'd been standing. or maybe you deny the kind of punishment your crimes against God deserve.

Today's culture does us no favors as we come to terms with our faith. And it's certainly no help in our efforts to evangelize. With modernity comes amazing distractions and the false belief that we can get by without help. Everything is made so immediate and easy, we can get carried away by playing God in our own world. There's no real need to take responsibility because mistakes can be so easily corrected.

Camping is a cure all for me, because it reminds me of how alone, and helpless, and fragile I really am. Shivering at night, blanketed by the vast cosmos, hungry and fumbling to get a fire going...those are times I find myself understanding why people relied on God to get through their everyday. Normally I can be online for 8 hours in the warm confines of my living room, and I have no need to acknowledge my brokenness. The spiritual blinders become a bit narrower and more distracting. Who needs good news when I have immediate gratification with the swipe of a mouse?

Well...sorry this was quite a ramble. Just some thoughts as I work out my faith. The good news? Christ took my place, justice was served on the cross, and Love won out. I'm cloaked in love, and that love was draped over my shoulders by Gods son who was sent down to save me. But I will never understand how valuable that act was, unless I realize the danger I've put myself in by repeatedly turning away from God's Love. 

Good night all.

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