Monthly Archives: September 2017

SIN SAYS “YES” & GOD SAYS “NO!”

I wish to say something about God’s “no” to Sin as He expresses it in the Church.

“For He made Him He who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
In the truth we have embraced, in our trusting God while we share the loss, hurt and anguish of the world—in these and more we reflect our Lord Jesus’ own trust in His Holy Father. From the cross on Golgotha as Luke tells us His last words were “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (As I write this—this very moment—one of our own (Alan Comer) is dying of cancer, enduring an agonizing exit, who has uttered and is uttering words just like that. “Father, into your hands I commit my very self!”)
Our very existence as the Body of the Living Jesus Christ, is a focused expression of God’s faithfulness to His commitment to the human family; not only to the Church but, through the Church and other of His gifts, to the world.  His goodness to us as sinners makes it clear that He will not allow Sin to have the last word and determine the destiny of humans. To those that Sin would strangle and suffocate and fill with despair the Church as a forgiven People, the Church as a reconciled People has been entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation.
The Church embodies and carries a message of inexpressibly good news and it’s this: “God knows about Sin but He refuses to let it have the last word because He is GOD and not a man (Hosea 11:9).” Even God cannot force a friendship upon people but He insists: “Whatever you want; My heart wants friendship. If you don’t want Me then we can’t be friends but the reason we’re not friends if we aren’t friends is not in Me! Where sin increases so does My grace. There is nothing in Me that keeps us apart. I am the sinned against and I say I am Sin’s enemy and I cancel its alienating power by My love of you.”
(Holy One, help us indeed to embody this truth about you. help those who teach us to teach us about this truth. Open their eyes to it and thrill them with it that they may come to us at times wide-eyed and astonished at you and the truth about you with messages that are worthy of you. Come to the Church’s aid in this that we might be thankful and happy servants of yours to our families and neighbors and to the world. This prayer in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ.)

 

IT’S A GOD THING!

Sin alienates us from God!

That’s true, but the truth is bigger than that. Sin IS alienation.

It is not true that we sin and God punishes us with alienation. The truth is that in choosing sin we are choosing, have chosen alienation. To say alienation takes place as a result of our sinning is not true enough! (Yet see Isaiah 59:2.)

[We speak of sins being forgiven. This is good speech (Acts 2:38, Ephesians 1:7) even though we know that sins aren’t forgiven—sinners are.]

God doesn’t punish us with alienation—we choose it and He accepts the choice! Alienation is our doing not God’s!

Consequences follow our choosing alienation (which is the same as choosing Sin). He made us humans and as long as He maintains that decision and purpose we will make choices that (for good or ill) have consequences that include everlasting death or everlasting life. In choosing alienation we sever ourselves from God who is the source of all that is fine and lovely and righteous. In choosing alienation from God, the source of life, we choose death and all the consequences that go with that.

And God’s response to humanity’s choosing alienation; His response to our rejecting friendship with Him? What does He do?

He comes in and as Jesus Christ saying, “I’m utterly opposed to this alienation. I’m utterly opposed to Sin which is alienation. I find no joy in it! I want us to be friends, I want you to return to me and have fullness of life!.”

That is the meaning of the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and glorification of God in Jesus of Nazareth.

So, is He soft on Sin? Does He think it doesn’t matter? No that cannot be! You measure God’s hatred of Sin and sins by the depths of His love for humanity! For Him, to be soft on Sin and sins would be the same as His being casual about the alienation of His children (Acts 17:24-29) ; it would be the same as ignoring our death; the same as His caring nothing for us—the children He created! This He cannot do so He cannot be soft on Sin! On Sin!
And why is that?
It’s a God thing!
It’s the nature and heart of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He hates our sin; hates our alienation precisely because He loves us.
And why does the Holy One love us?
It’s a Holy God thing!
It’s the nature and heart of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And there is no other God!

(Holy One, help us who have had the privilege to hear of you to think noble thoughts of you. Help those you have called to teach us to so teach us that we will be believe and be shaped and energized by your glory, wonder and holy love.)

 

 

A WEARY, BATTERED WEAVER

Here’s what J.M. Barrie said in his book The Little Minister, “Long ago a minister of Thrums was to be married, but something happened, and he remained a bachelor. Then, when he was old, he passed in our square the lady who was to have been his wife, and her hair was white, but she, too, was still unmarried. The meeting had only one witness, a weaver, a weaver who sat day after toilsome day at his window as long as there was light, and he said solemnly afterwards, ‘They didn’t speak, but they gave one another a look, and I saw the love-light in their eyes.’
No more is remembered of these two, no being now living ever saw them, but the poetry that was in the soul of a battered weaver, bound by necessity to his machine, makes them human to us forever.”
Aren’t people like that a gift!? No matter how tough their lives are they keep the romance in their souls and make the world brighter, lovelier. They’re able to see what the rest of us can’t—those of us made hard and cynical or perhaps just too hurt that our poor hearts, because of the disappointment and loss—can no longer see.
There may have been a time when our hearts raced at the sight of someone we held precious; there may have been a time when we were sensitive enough to notice the shy but warm glances that passed between people but for many of us those days are gone. The light has either gone out or grown dim and we resign ourselves to live in the twilight until along comes a “battered weaver” who defied the suffocating world and kept his soul alive.
Barrie doesn’t say if his battered weaver was married or was in love with a particular someone or had ever been in love but he makes it clear that the toil-worn worker was a lover and love has eyes.
Later in his novel he tells how the preacher Gavin Dishart falls in love with Babbie the gypsy girl who at first has little interest in the preacher. But that was only at first—before he kissed her. “Until the moment when he kissed her she had only conceived him as a quaint fellow whose life was a string of Sundays, but behold what she saw in him now. It’s said that Love is blind, but love is not blind. It is an extra eye that shows us what is most worthy of regard. To see the best, the honorable, but what is truly felt, that is to see most clearly, and it’s the lover’s privilege.”
People like the over-worked weaver won’t end up with a ton of money in the bank but they’re able to uncover treasure that all the tycoons in creation can’t buy. You have to have the heart, don’t you see? They won’t build grand skyscrapers, these people, or multi-national companies but they build dreams and open to us the possibility of a life that’s filled with the joy of hope and warmth and they’ll go down to their well-earned graves with a contented heart.
Maybe you’ve met such people. The kind who aren’t too sweet to be wholesome but who are sensitive to the good and lovely that lies hidden just below the surface of an unpromising appearance.
Maybe you are one! Maybe you too are one of the millions that are tied to a job and to responsibilities that make truly heavy demands of you; but not so heavy that you’ve allowed them to blind you to the beauty that is in life—a beauty that a great host of us can’t see. And if you are one of those, God bless you. God has blessed you. Thank you!
Jesus said that even a cup of cold water given in His name will not be forgotten, will not go without reward. The beauty and glory that’s in you changes a dreary world and just by hearing of or, better, knowing someone like you, we are changed or are given the chance to change. You don’t keep a record of your good words, looking for that reward Jesus spoke of; you you don’t think of it in that way; you don’t think of it at all. You simply have the heart for it and turn to people like us and say with a smile, “Did you see how they looked at each other?” And if we’re blessed like you we’ll have seen it and if we haven’t, your sweet, strong, deathless spirit will infect us and maybe we too will begin to see, or at least to look.
Thank you! Thank you for the cups of cold water you are handing out without the blowing of trumpets.

(Holy Father, thank you for the warm—honorable—but warm people of the world who keep our hearts beating and make us smile even when we don’t feel like smiling. This thankfulness, in Jesus’ name.)