Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Does It Mean If I Refuse to Be a Forgiving Person?

Say somebody sins against me. Happens every once in awhile. When I demand restitution, atonement, repentance and sorrow (DEMAND, not hope in Christ that He will "make it right" if that's His will for me or the situation), then my theology is wrong on more than one level.

First level: What does the Gospel say? All of _____'s sins have been atoned for, nailed to the Cross and Jesus has taken the death penalty for those sins. There can be no double jeopardy. There has been a break in relationship, perhaps a fracture of our trust in one another, but all the crime has been paid for. So what we work on, being confident of that theology, is our relationship and our trust.

Second level: What sins (yours or theirs) were bad enough that Jesus had to go all the way to dying on the Cross to cleanse and forgive them?

When I put my sin behind me
And forget what I have done
There's not a shred of mercy
Found within my heart
When I forget that it was my sin
That caused my Lord to die
And demand you toe the line
While I skate on by, loving
All those people who love me
All of them who think I'm fine
Choking on the Gospel
Gulping sacramental wine.

What do I REALLY think? How much sin did Jesus die for? How much of it is the other person's? Was it a lot? Was it a little?

Had it been just my sin that was involved, would Jesus have just kind of ignored it, or at least shaken His head and thought, "Ah, that's not so bad. She's trying."

Or would my sin been enough, foul and filthy, wretched and humiliating, so much so, in fact, that Jesus would have hefted the cross, taken the betrayal and beatings, the torture and mocking, and bled just for my sin, because - yeah, it really IS that bad?

When you're in the right, suffered a wrong at the hands of somebody, feeling pretty righteous because they've gone too far and caused you some damage, do you weigh their sins and see them as HUGE, compare them to yours and think, "wow, I'd never do anything quite that bad. But THAT person's sin - what they just did to me - well, that required the death of the Son of God. But my sins, Jesus would have understood my heart, known I'm trying to be a good person. He'd just wink and shrug His shoulders at mine; but their sins? They deserve the wrath of God!"

Any of those thoughts ringing true? Well, I must admit, they have a ring of truth for me, as a matter of fact. The evidence of my true mindset is there, shown by the way I've been behaving (long term behavior, style of relating, demanding restitution, withholding forgiveness until certain non-negotiable conditions have been met, etc.). I may be oblivious to it and live in denial, but it cannot be hidden from God or the people who really know me.

If those thoughts are ringing true (any of them) then our theology is wrong. Are we counting sins here? Are we measuring sinfulness by specific acts of conduct or failures to act? By any specific attitudes? What is sin, anyway? Is it my basic heart condition (idol-factory), or is it just all the little specific instances where I put myself first and said "to heck with you"?

Why was God so offended with my heart or my behavior, my thoughts or my words? Why is my sinful heart bad enough that it would require the precious infinitely valuable and beloved blood of the Son of God to be spilt to cleanse and forgive me? Am I that vile? filthy? untouchable or awful?

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. And when I can finally get that right, when that gets into my heart, then mercy will flow from me in measure with the amount of mercy that God through Jesus Christ, has lavished upon me. Oh, I believe, Lord. Help me in my unbelief!

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