Monday, January 12, 2015

God's Record-Keeping

"If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, 
Lord, who could stand?" 
But with you there is forgiveness . . . (Psalm 130)

God doesn't keep a record of our sins. Psalm 130 tells us that. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs, and 1 John tells us that God is love, so -- again -- God keeps no record of wrongs. Psalm 103 tells us that when God removes our sin, He takes it as far as the east is from the west. God doesn't keep a record of our sins.

But this fact seems counterintuitive to us. The prevailing view in our culture (even among many Christians) is that God is like Santa Claus: keeping track of everything we do, weighing it all on a scale at the end of our lives to see if we are more good than bad, and determining our eternal fate by that measure. And such a measure requires record-keeping of our sins.

Scripture does not teach this. Not at all. Most other religions do teach this -- or some variation on the concept. When the concept is attached to the Christian gospel, it is a warping of the gospel truth.

God doesn't keep a record of our sins. The fact is, He doesn't need to. His primary concern is our being in a relationship with Him, and one transgression is all it takes to cut off that relationship -- a list of later transgressions is superfluous. And once the relationship is restored through Christ's sacrifice, our transgressions are a moot point.

Let me clarify: the transgressions are a moot point. The damage they cause is not.

This is something I feel like God has been showing me lately. When God looks at me, He doesn't see all the wrong I've done, or continue to do, or will inevitably do in the future. Those sins were covered by The Blood of the Lamb -- Hallelujah, Thine the Glory -- Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves.

What God sees when He looks at me are my wounds.

He sees the dead places that my sinful ways have created, the dried-upness and waste that needs to be hacked out of my soul and burned in the trash heap . . . leaving empty gaps that will ache until enough time has passed for new healthy growth to fill them.

He sees the calloused places that have grown thick and hard, like brick walls I've built to protect things needing to be protected -- and things needing to be destroyed -- walls that now block communication, block connection, block healing.

He sees the tender places, red and raw, that roar with pain when they are touched and hinder progress in my soul.

He sees the broken places, especially those that, like a poorly set broken bone, have "healed themselves" in a distorted fashion.

When God looks at me, a sinner saved by grace, He's not seeing the sins anymore: He's seeing the devastation left in my soul from my sins. And His goal is to restore. To heal.

The thing is, the restoration and healing can hurt and usually does. Even the antibiotic ointment a mama puts on her child's skinned knee can sting. But the greater the healing required, the greater the pain involved -- witness the cancer victim suffering under the effects of the radiation treatment that will save her life. Witness the man who leg bone has to be re-broken so it can be re-set and allowed to heal correctly.

I often misinterpret the pain that comes with the healing as punishment. God's upset about the sin He sees in me still. He's disciplining me, giving me what I deserve for my naughty, selfish, prideful ways. And yes, the Bible tells us not to scorn the discipline the Father gives His children. But discipline is not about punishment -- it's about training. Shaping. Molding. Yes, even healing, I think.

I'm finding that it does matter how I view God's discipline. If I think of it as punishment for my never-ending sins, I am disheartened . . . discouraged . . . even angry at a God who promised forgiveness and seems to be reneging on that promise. But if I think of it as shaping . . . cleansing . . . healing the damage left when my sins were removed, then I am grateful and ready to get on board with His program of discipline.

Cuz Lord knows, I need HEALING. And praise God, I know the Great Healer.

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