I see Jesus on the cross as cruel spikes are driven through his hands and feet. I hear his plea, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. At this time and in this place, Jesus was not only suffering for the sin of those with mallets and spikes. He was there to suffer and atone for every sin that was mine and mine alone. I cannot comprehend such love. He had every justification to hate me, despise me, abandon me and instead, He, my mediator, plead with God almighty for my very soul.
Sunday worship has come to be something completely new, completely wonderful and completely unexpected. When I look around the church, I see formal attire and I also see tattoos and piercings and all manner of people who show every sign of a hard life in the trenches of error and sin. This is new to me. My “Coming Out” is an effort to leave the traditions and rituals and rules and regulations and dress codes and the intentional blindness of organized religion behind. Today, I am thinking about the blindness that was mine and is still mine to one degree or another.
There is an ugly part of me that still sees these people who have been so badly beaten down by life, and I think, “look at that freak”. It is so hard to replace a life time of pride and arrogance with love and humility. I am working on it, but I still have a long way to travel. But, after an automatic and less than Christlike reaction, I do recognize my sin and I ache to cast it aside.
When I see this sin in myself, I think of Jesus who so loved the Roman Centurion that he healed his servant and saw faith in the Roman that was unequaled in all of Israel. This, Jesus did while Israel and I would have been more likely to hate this Roman man of great faith.
I think of Jesus having supper in Matthew’s house with sinners and tax collectors. The Pharisees saw this and unrighteously judged Jesus because they, like I often do, first judged the sinners and tax collectors to be of lesser worth in the sight of God.
I think of the woman who had suffered many years with an issue of blood. Jewish law declared her to be ceremonially unclean due to an illness that caused her bleeding. Yet, Jesus saw her great faith and healed her. I might have been more likely to judge, condemn and shun her out of my own worthless pride.
My mind turns to the woman taken in the very act of adultery. Jewish law required that such a sin was worthy of death and demanded that the woman must be stoned. I can easily picture myself in the crowd with a rock in my hand. I often picture Jesus lovingly turning his gaze to this woman, her head lowered, her eyes down cast. In my mind, I see him taking her hands and waiting until she returned his gaze. I am certain that she saw and felt the love of Jesus when he did not condemn, but instead encouraged her to leave her sin behind and begin again.
Finally, I see Jesus on the cross as cruel spikes are driven through his hands and feet. I hear his plea, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. At this time and in this place, Jesus was not only suffering for the sin of those with mallets and spikes. He was there to suffer and atone for every sin that was mine and mine alone. I cannot comprehend such love. He had every justification to hate me, despise me, abandon me and instead, He, my mediator, plead with God almighty for my very soul.
This past weekend, I was in Twin Falls, Idaho to speak at a rally. Here, the people were working to defend the principles of liberty, encased in the word of God which is the foundation of all liberty. It was a joy to spend the day with people who automatically praise God in every victory or defeat. They truly are teaching me a new way and am so grateful.
All of the participants made signs to hold high and proclaim their message to passing motorists. In bold letters, I created a sign that was somewhat different. It simply said, “Please stop and ask me why!“. I moved down to the corner near a traffic light so that when people stopped, I could wave to them and point to my sign. A young family pulled up in a rattly piece of junk car. I waved, smiled and pointed to my sign. He nodded, rounded the corner and slipped into the first available parking space.
I approached the car and had an opportunity to visit with them for a time. As I looked on them, I saw a young father, mother and small daughter. It was obvious that they had been beaten down by a combination of choice and sin and the demands of life. As we visited, I came to know that he was on felony probation for a drug program of some sort. Because of an evil, ungodly and unconstitutional law, he will carry a scarlet letter for the remainder of his days. Forever, he will carry the label of felon. No matter what he does or how he improves, this label will forever close doors and rob opportunity from this little family. I learned that he has been clean of drugs for some time now and is determined to remain so. For a short time, I had the joy of seeing these children of God through new eyes. Perhaps, I was seeing them as Jesus does.
Every day since, when I come before the Lord in prayer, I remember this family. I lift them up to him. I pray that he will strengthen and lead their efforts. I pray that Jesus will open doors that a lawless and Godless judicial system has locked shut. Slowly, ever so slowly, my vision is clearing and my blind eyes are beginning to see. To me, it is wondrous. I praise God for a multitude of tender mercies that are at work in my life.