Wednesday, July 29, 2020


There's this popular idea in our Christianity that says that when we get to Heaven, we will sit down with the saints and with the Lord Himself and watch some sort of movie of our lives, a movie that will reveal all the sin that we committed, even in secret, and cause us to "give account" for the way that we lived. Most of us have some kind of idea that our greatest shame and failure is going to be blasted all over that screen, that God is going to sit next to us disapprovingly, shaking His head. And there's even a sense that it's not until that moment that we learn whether we "made it" or not - whether God is going to let us into His eternity or cast us into the pits of Hell. Only when we see our lives played out on this video tape will we learn what God really thought about us.

Uhm...where did we get that idea? Seriously.

The Bible tells us that God forgets our sin. Forgets it. Isaiah says that God is the only being in all the world who actually forgets our sin, removing it so far away from us that it cannot be remembered. We even say stuff like this, and sing it: As far as the east is from the west, so God has removed our sin from us. Yet somehow, we think that God forgetting our sin means He's actually just tucked it away on a videotape for later.

That's not what forgetting means. That's not what removing our sin means. It doesn't mean putting it on a shelf and saving it for later. It doesn't mean pretending not to remember only to slam us with it the first chance He gets. It doesn't mean keeping a secret scorecard after He's told us that this is a lot like Whose Line Is It Anyway? - the points don't matter.

I think it's because we have so much experience with persons in our lives who claim to forgive us, but also bring up our failures every chance they get. Or claim to forgive us until something similar happens, and then they bring it back up again. Or claim to forgive us, then are able to lay out a ten-point bulleted outline of our sinful patterns. The persons in our lives may forgive us, but they do not forget, so it is hard for us to comprehend a forgiveness of God that truly forgets.

But even if we're not convinced about this whole forgetting thing God says He does, there are other problems with our idea of this movie of our lives. We think that it's not until this moment that we discover whether we "made it" or not, whether God's going to let us into eternity. And yet, we also say that the moment you bring Jesus into your heart, you are forgiven and embraced and promised into eternity with Him.

Which means that if we continue to question whether God will let us into eternity after we've given our heart to Jesus, then what we're really questioning is whether the promise of Jesus is real. We wonder whether God meant what He said.

Think about that for a minute. We wonder - we question - whether God was serious about that thing where He sent His Son to die an excruciating death on the Cross in front of our very eyes to show us His deep, abiding love for us even in the midst of our own sin. Yeah, we question whether He meant that or not.

And that may not even be the worst of our questioning, though it's certainly dramatic. More about that tomorrow.

The point, at least part of it, is that this image that we have of what it means to "give an account" for our life isn't an image that God has given us. It's one that has come out of our own shame and insecurity. The God who not only forgives our sins, but forgets them, does not have a secret stash of video clips from our lives of us messing up again and again and again. (And let's just add that there is not room in the heavens for all the tapes from even my life, let alone everyone's.) The God who sent His Son to die on the Cross so that we could enter into eternity with Him is not yet undecided about whether you're going to "make it" or not.

Giving an account for our lives, then, must mean something completely different than our fear says it does. Than our insecurity says it does. More on that on Friday. 

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