Wednesday, July 03, 2019

"Friend, your sins are forgiven"

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'” (Luke 5:20).

When we turn to Jesus with helplessness and such trust as the Holy Spirit has engendered in us (1 Corinthians 12:3), the fear of not being good enough (which we're not) is gone.

So too is the need to "prove" our worthiness because the death of God the Son on the cross proves our infinite and eternal worthiness, despite our sins and imperfections, in the eyes of God. When we turn to Christ, we live, we are forgiven.

I was telling a group at church last night about the professor who, at the beginning of the term, told the hard-charging students in his graduate course that they were all getting A's. That drove some people crazy: How would they prove they deserved an A? Was it fair for them not to get a better grade if they did more and better work?

But what they found was that because they knew they already had A's, they were set free to do their best work, set free from the anxiety of being perfect. They learned more than they'd ever imagined possible.

At the end of the term, the professor explained that this was a picture of God's grace: "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

God approaches the human race with an attitude of grace, love, and forgiveness. This is how He looks at us even when we have our backs (and our lives) turned toward Him.

But when we turn to Him--

away from ourselves,

away from our "clan,"

away from our achievements,

away from our supposed goodness and merit ("all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" Isaiah 64:6),

away from both self-loathing and self-aggrandizement,

away from the little godlets, the idols of our choosing, be they human beings or sticks of wood or money or houses or power or fame--

when we turn to Jesus in helplessness and trust, we receive the forgiveness, new life, peace, hope, and permission to be our best selves that He had for us all the time.

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'”

[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio. More importantly, I'm a sinner who daily claims God's forgiveness and the mantle of sainthood He has in mind for me despite who I am by turning to Jesus.]

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