Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Good Grace

As we wrap up our look at the story of David and Hanun, we confess that we have introduced some difficult ideas, enough for us to wrestle with for a lifetime. We have looked at the ways that pride and insecurity keep us from humbling ourselves, causing us often to double down on our own iniquity and make things ten times worse for ourselves, and we have considered what it means to be men and women of God who are not known for our forgiveness (among other things). 

Now, if you'll permit me, I want to make one more jump to one more important, but difficult, idea, one that has a tremendous impact on the faith that we live. After all, it is this faith that enables us to be a forgiving people in the first place and that allows us to humble ourselves. 

That jump is this: are we a people who believe that God will forgive us? 

If we propose the idea that Hanun could not humble himself and repent because he was concerned that David would not forgive him, even though he knew David's good nature and at one point in his life, would have attested to the kindness and goodness of the Israelite king, then it stands to reason that many of us may have the same struggle with our God.

We cannot humble ourselves before a God that we are not confident will forgive us, even if we know that God is good and even if, at some point in our lives, we would have attested to the kindness and goodness of our God. 

It's easy to say, well, wait a minute. If we know that God is good, then we shouldn't have a problem believing in His goodness. We shouldn't have a second thought about His forgiveness. After all, when we look at the Cross, how could we have any lingering questions? When that blood and sweat drips down from Jesus's brow, what is left for us to wonder about? 

But we know, too, that there is a difference between intellectual acknowledgement and personal need. There's something that fundamentally changes about grace when we find ourselves in need of it. We can talk all day about the goodness of God until it is we who have sinned and fallen short of His glory. And then, well...then, our insecurities get in the way. 

It's natural. We know more about ourselves at any given point in time than we know about anyone else. We know our motives, the thoughts that we've had, the justifications that we've made, the lies that we've told to ourselves and to others. We know, whether we're willing to confess or not, the depravity of our own soul, and we know our own limited capacity for things like forgiveness. Given what we know, we wouldn't forgive ourselves, so how could we ever expect God to forgive us? 

The challenge of the Christian faith, and the answer to these kinds of insecurities, is that we must develop the mind of God. We have to come to the place where the thoughts that we think about ourselves, the things that we know about who we are in our inmost being, are the thoughts that God thinks about, the things that He knows from knitting us together in our mother's womb. That's not to say that we gloss over our sin and simply cover it with blood; no, the Lord Himself acknowledges our sin. He simply...holds to greater things than this. (While we, we must say, too often believe there is nothing greater in this world than our sin.)

(Enter, then, the Cross.)

But the point is this: if we are not a people who believe that God is who He says He is and that He can and will forgive us, then we can't be the people He has called us to be. If we believe about God what perhaps Hanun believed about David - that all of this forgiveness, grace, hope, love, mercy, and promise is 'just talk' - then we can't live the kind of life that He's called us to live. And this would be no fault of His, for how much of His story has He invested in showing us exactly this? No, this is on us. This is on us being too wrapped up in ourselves to see Him at all. This is us knowing, we think, too much about who we are and not enough about who He is. This is us forgetting, it seems, everything that we once attested to about God and grace, when the only thing that has really changed is that today, we ourselves stand in need of it. 

Are we so special? I think not. 

Rather, I believe we are so loved. 

We just have to remember that, especially in the moments when it's too easy for us to forget.  

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