Saturday, January 15, 2011

"A Peculiar Kind of Absolution" Indeed

“And I also thought pawning one’s punishment off on Jesus was a peculiar kind of absolution. What about owning up to one’s mistakes? What about conscience?” (Welch, In the Land of Believers, 2010).

I wondered why that ideology struck me so personally. Had I ever considered what a “cop out” being a Christian was? Had I ever seen myself as a coward and Jesus as my personal scapegoat? Had it ever even occurred to me that “unbelievers” could see it that way?

No, to all three, but perhaps I should.

Was being a Christian all about thrusting the blame for my adulterated, willful transgressions on some innocent carpenter existing almost 2000 years before me, not standing up to pay the piper for the sins I have committed? Yep, absolutely. And why not? He wanted to do whatever it took that I might be reunited with Him in Heaven one day. Though He knew the pain and humiliation He would face, though He prayed to His Father that there be some other way, though He cried out in agony as He hung there alone – totally alone – He did it for me. Because He loves me. Let those words hang there for just a moment. He loves me, and always has. Before there was a “me” with ten little fingers and ten little toes, He loved me. And what if I didn’t accept that? Would it change anything? No. Because He did it for you, too. No one “let” Jesus take the blame; no one “lets” God do anything. He does what He wills. So He would have suffered, and I would have rejected it, and I would perish for my sins, and others would still have their place with Jesus. Why shouldn’t I give Him the things that make me feel cheap, or ugly, or hopeless, or ______? He wanted me to. He loves me that much.

And if others see me as some sort of coward, or monster for not “owning up,” I did. But, not without realizing that while I can acknowledge things I have done, I would be foolish to think I had some way of atoning for them. It is my conscience, heavy with guilt that led me to the feet of an innocent carpenter on the cross, to confidently ask for His forgiveness, to praise Him for His most gracious and selfless gift, and to swathe myself in the love that He has for me. He loves me that much.

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