Sometimes I grieve deeply at the success Your enemy has had in misrepresenting You. And how that “pendulum” can swing widely from one extreme to the other.
I met a Christian recently who grew up in a church where all that was taught about You was anger and judgment and vengeance. I can’t help but think this is child abuse of a different kind. It is a miracle of Your Grace that any person like this would ever open their heart to You. I know it isn’t obedience out of fear (of the panic kind) that You want from us. You want a “head-over-heels” love from us… a love that trusts You completely and follows You joyfully out of a heart overflowing with gratitude. But what scars are inflicted by that teaching that characterizes the rule of the King of kings as a reign of terror?
I met a different Christian recently with the opposite problem. This one has been worshiping at the Altar of “Good Enough.” Blithely skipping along a path at the edge of a cliff without seeing the danger. Funny how sometimes danger is as obvious as a Mack truck; sometimes it is like odorless, tasteless poison that leaves no trace.
For this second Christian, Your “Good News” is received with a measure of awe and thanksgiving… plus, truth be told, a certain amount of relief because this “Good News” requires nothing. Sin is no longer relevant, the teaching goes. Once we have received You as Savior, we have been forgiven of all of our sins — past, present and future — so there is no need to ever confess or repent again. You don’t remember our sin, the teaching goes… so why should we (even when we knowingly continue in it)?
The first person is too fearful (of You) to come into Your Presence for the deep healing they so desperately need. After all, wouldn’t it be better (they “reason”) to just keep stuffing or denying those wounds, and living under the burden of self-condemnation versus drawing close to the One who (they believe) could — and, certainly, would — squash them like a bug?
The second person is too casual (with You) to even want to come into Your Presence for the freedom they so desperately need. After all, if their sin doesn’t really matter, why not keep it up? Why learn to exercise self-control if You have already “forgotten” the worst of its absence? Why try to live up to Your expectations if You don’t have any?
The first person remains crushed under the weight of festering wounds and a self-protection that isolates. The second remains trapped by the snares of bondage and a self-deception that imprisons. How very sad.
But it doesn’t have to be like this!
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.” (John 10:10)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again.” (Jeremiah 31:3-4a)
“… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… to comfort all who mourn… to bestow on them a crown a beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1,2a,3a)
The enemy is a master of disguise. Will the real Sovereign Lord please stand up?
“Open my eyes that I may see…” (Psalm 119:18)