Our culture has taken a strong stance against sin. Not against sin, actually, but against the label. So, as though we could wish the wrongs away, we excuse and re-label and explain away our every flaw and failure. We call it anything but sin.
Habits. Choices. Weaknesses. Shortcomings. Personality traits. Stress-induced insanity.
There we go. No more sin.
We do it to be nice. We call it loving. We call it kind.
And it is killing us.
In a most ironic turn of events, with our every attempt to sanitize our sins, we are getting sicker and sicker and sicker.
And all the while, the kindest Father we may never know is inviting us in. And the Gospel really is good news. And our desire to excuse sin rather than confess it may have become a road-block rather than an on-ramp to the kingdom of our very good God.
With that said, I’d like to share something that I wrote for our church’s Easter devotional. I’ve been thinking so much about confession recently–about my own tendency to rationalize or hide or ignore my weaknesses and mistakes (my, dare I say it, SINS) rather than to let them press me closer to a Savior who bids me come. I hope it might be some encouragement to you as well.
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Stooped by sin and shame, we hear the Father’s voice—in a song, in a sermon, in the quiet undertones of our own pounding heart. He’s bid us to Himself, and we know we’re caught. We know we’re guilty. Somehow we cannot resist His call to come, but we hope we might slip in unnoticed. As though the only way we’ll find welcome is if we’re never really found at all. So we tiptoe quietly into His chamber. We tuck our chin tight against our chest and fix our eyes on the floor. We’ve been here before—guilty, wrong, too much, not enough. Shame brims in weary eyes. Condemnation blurs them. We can no longer blink back the grief. Our hearts catch in our throats as we hear our Master rise. Our bowed faces can only see His feet. One step closer. Two. Until they’re planted right before us. Until they’re all that we can see. Our own slamming heart is all that we can hear. His hands rest heavy on our head, and we can feel His power. We hold our breath and wait for the fallout. But then those hands slide tenderly down to cup our face and lift our chin.
Perhaps we expected this Most High God’s might, His power, His glory. But in the face of our desperation, it’s His kindness that is most stunning. Romans 2:4 tells us that that the Lord’s kindness is what is meant to lead us to repentance. And it does. We come grief-stricken by our own guilt, and in repentance, we find overwhelming welcome in the presence of our Savior.
The Almighty God stepped down off the throne, climbed up on the cross, rose up from the grave. Jesus Christ did everything that was necessary to offer to His children perfect and complete forgiveness.
And so we remember and we worship, not by bringing Him our best by bringing Him our all—all our sin, all our shame, all our shortcomings and surpluses. We are not condemned to repentance. We’re invited to it. Invited to turn from our own ways and turn back to Him. Invited to find life! Not because we’re worthy but because He is. His kindness calls us and His mercy welcomes us and His grace is sufficient where we are not.
- What keeps you from approaching your God? What sins whisper that you’re unworthy? What shame convinces you that you’re unwelcome? Carry all those burdens with you, and come with humble confidence into the presence of your Savior today. If you’re willing, actually write those things down. List them out. Let the list pain you when it needs to (mine does). Let it be longer than you’d like.
- Our sins really do separate us from God. We really are in desperate need of a Savior. And we really do have One in Jesus! When you’re done listing out your sins and shames, give that list over to Jesus. It helps me to do things like this physically. As you confess and repent of each of those things, cross them out. When you’re done, tear up the list, and throw it away.
- I was tempted to tell you to hold onto the list to remind you that you’re forgiven, but I think we’re too often tempted to hold onto our sins even once Jesus has forgiven them. So I don’t want you to save that list. I want you to throw it away. Really. Do it. And once you have, draw two small dots on the palms of your hands. As you go through the next few days, let those dots remind you of the price Jesus paid for you when you went to the cross, of the forgiveness He bought and the mercy He extends. Of His kind invitation to repentance