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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Punished "by" our Sin #5

I heard an angry sermon this week. One that painted God as a God that was owed a debt. And, this God, sat in heaven demanding that debt be paid. The implication was ultimately that Jesus was punished on the cross instead of us. He took the big spanking and God was pleased. He then said, Jesus, willingly took the spanking, the debt was paid, and now, we can be forgiven of the debt. The punisher’s thirst was quenched.

While this is not entirely “untrue” it raises a lot of questions for me. First of all, I don’t think the Bible simply teaches Jesus was punished by the Father—we’ll talk about that some other time.

The greater one is, if Jesus suffered willingly on my behalf and now I am forgiven i.e. saved from punishment, what impetus is there for me to live holy? Jesus had to die for something greater than just giving me a get out of jail free card. It MUST be more than a legal transaction.

This is the problem I always had with the theology that says I do something wrong, go tell someone about it, and say a few prayers so I can turn around and do it again. Then, if I don’t get it right, when I die I will have to suffer a little bit more before I move on or, in some circles, I am born all over to get it right in some other form.

I grew up with an after-life perspective. God forgives our debt which is good because I do a lot of bad crap and then one day, he’ll take me away from all the crappiness to live in a land of no crap. This mentality is not helpful. This does nothing for me to take on a new posture, a new way of living.

Our sin carries with it consequences an innate punishment. Part of fixing the furniture requires us to work hard. To fix what we jacked up.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station hunkered down last week while waiting to find out if a piece of space junk would hit their temporary abode at about 20,000 mph. Experts estimate there are over 17,000 pieces of space junk 4 inches or greater, 20,000 in the 1-3 inch range, and 10’s of millions of smaller pieces floating around . . . out there.

Our lives are spent creating junk. And, often, being destroyed by it as it orbits back around and we say, “what the . . . ? Where did that come from?”

We create our own junk. Our own debt. Our own price to pay. Our own crap to dodge or . . . deal with.

I like Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. Here’s a family that is hurting from the effects of whatever. Let’s go in, fix what is broken, make new stuff, pay off the stuff they can’t pay for, give them some dignity, and love on them. Give them a fresh start. Give them freedom.

Debt is the opposite of freedom. When you are in debt, you have no freedom to do selfless things.

To fix the furniture.

To play your part.

To shadow God.

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