Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crazy Love: Reality Check

"Whether we admit it or not, every one of us has offended G-d at some point.  Jesus affirmed this when He said, 'No one is good - except G-d alone' (Luke 18:19)
"So why does G-d still love us, despite us?  I do not have an answer to this question.  But I do know that if G-d's mercy didn't exist, there would be no hope  No matter how good we tried to be, we would be punished because of our sins.
"Many people look at their lives and weigh their sins against their good deeds.  But Isaish 64:6 says, 'All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.'  Our good deeds can never outweigh our sins.
"The literal interpretation of 'filthy rags' in this verse is 'menstrual garments' (think used tampons... and if you're disgusted by that idea, you get Isaiah's point).  It's hard to imagine something more disgusting that we could brag about or put on display.  But compared to G-d's perfect holiness, that's how our good deeds appear.
"G-d's mercy is a free, yet costly, gift.  It cannot be earned.  Our righteous acts, just like menstrual garments, certainly don't help us deserve it.  The wages of sin will always be death.  But because of G-d's mercy, sin is paid for through the death of Jesus Christ, instead of the death of you and me.
"The very face that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair, and just G-d loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing." 
                                                           From Crazy Love, by Francis Chan 

I know, that's a vastly long quote to start this off, but it's only a fraction of what I read from this book today.  I spent a lot of time on trains and subways today, so I got a had a lot of spare time for it.  Mercifully, I tend not to get motion sick when I don't have a window seat.  If you haven't been keeping up with my blog, it probably won't occur to you why this passage stuck out to me so much, so you should probably read this post before moving forward. 

Now that everyone's working from the same page, let's talk about this long quote.  I'd had a hard time imagining good deeds as dirty rags before, no matter the illustration.  I'd always looked at it and said, "But how could anything good be like dirt?  Yes, it's not as good as G-d, but shouldn't it still fall under the realm of goodness?"  But, somehow, Mr. Chan made it click for me.  I think it was that a few pages before the one that features this section, he had been writing about pride.  Having those two so close together made something click into place in my brain.  But I knew it wasn't the full thing that needed to click.  I felt like I was on the tip of the iceberg, so I looked around the subway, and my eyes landed on the red, plastic handholds that were hanging from the ceiling.  Watching them sway with the movement of the subway made it easy for me to imagine them as used tampons, as Chan suggested I do.  As I watched, I began to understand the magnitude of my pride.

These things that I do or have done, they're nothing compared to the goodness of G-d, and they're still performed by a flawed human being.  They're tainted by things like my pride and ulterior motives.  I am a sinner, and, as such, my actions will always be less than what was originally planned.


Jesus loves me anyway.

Let me type out the rest of what Chan says about Christ's love:
"The wildest part is that Jesus doesn't have to love us.  His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity.  He doesn't need me or you.  Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us His inheritance (Eph. 1:18).  The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing G-d treasures us.
"That really is amazing beyond description.  The holy Creator sees you as His "glorious inheritance."
For a girl that really hasn't ever felt beautiful in her life, this being wanted idea is a big deal.  Nothing I do is going to earn me that place with Him (think about it - the best we end up giving are these "dirty rags"), but it's not something to be earned, anyway.  He wants to be with me just as badly as I want to be with Him.  That's a big deal.

So, I'm thinking that while all of you are out, eating  chocolate and buying flowers on Tuesday, I'm going to be have a date with the One Man who has always pursued me, always wanted me, and always loved me.  Yes, I know I'm sounding über cliché right now, but - you know what? - I DON'T CARE.  This has been very, very much needed.

I'm hoping that you're reading the joy into this that I'm feeling.  This is not a down on myself post.  This is a post about a mindset that's changing.

Lots of love to you all.

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