Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Redemption

I just finished reading a book that I've been wanting to read for a long time.  The Shack.  Based on what I found when I googled it,(after reading it - I hate to have anything ruined for me when reading a book) it sounds like it's a little controversial.  I love me some controversy...

Not really, but I do find myself immersed  in this debate.  Not because I want to be, but seemingly because it's right where God wants me.

I'll let you in on a little secret.  I'm wrestling with Scripture where predestination and freewill are concerned.  I feel like both are biblical and somehow they live together in perfect harmony, but I haven't quite been able to hum the tune myself.  Several pastors that I respect come in on opposite sides of the ring on this one, and that leaves me a little baffled.

The thought of "being taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy," (Col 2:8) makes me nervous.  I also want to "avoid foolish controversies and arguments and quarrels about the law." (Titus 3:9) *Scriptures are the Rachel version, adapted from the NIV...*

Ultimately, I want to know the true heart and mind of God and not just some traditional belief system that has been passed down through generation after generation of broken, busted up people.  Know what I mean?

So, back to The Shack.  This novel paints a beautiful picture of the God I believe to be real.  Yes - it is a fictional book, and this version of "God" comes from a human perspective.  Flawed? Most likely - unless this human we speak of is Jesus.  Possibly right on?  I'd like to hope so.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when "God" (I use quotes because that is not the actual name of the character in the book, and it is after all a fictional book...) is talking about forgiveness and redemption.

"Forgiveness is not about forgetting, it's about letting go of another person's throat."  Isn't that good?  Love it.
 
When asked "don't you forget our sins?" Here is how "God" answers:

"I am God. I forget nothing.  I know everything. So forgetting for me is the choice to limit myself.  Son, because of Jesus, there is now no law demanding that I bring your sins back to mind.  They are gone when it comes to you and me, and they run no interference in our relationship."

Redemption.  Paying our tab, so we don't have to worry about.  The cost of sin is death.  Death is separation from God. That's the last thing that God wants, so He picks up our tab.  He wants, longs for relationship with us.  He knows that we aren't capable of it on our own, so He makes a way.  What the Law was powerless to do, God did. Period.

I've often thought about redemption and what it really means.  I've thought about how millions of Americans would love to see a certain terrorist strung up to pay for his sins against us, against humanity.  But what does God want?  Redemption.  Some people are beyond redemption, you might say.  To which I would say, False.

Case in point.  Join me in Acts chapter 7.  Let's pick it up at the very end where Stephen is being stoned.

Starting with verse  57.
57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Chapter 8
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

Then in chapter 9

1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Not exactly the guy you would expect to write the majority of the books of the New Testament, right? 

Redemption.

Paul's redemption story begins in the very next verse.  If you've never read the book of Acts, (which I hadn't until last year.  I have no idea why...) shut your computer off and immediately find your Bible and read it.  If you haven't read it in a long time, do the same.  If you wonder what they Church or we as Christ followers are supposed to look like...  Read it.  Seriously.  

In the meantime, take Matthew 6:27-28 to heart.  You just might have the opportunity to be part of some one's redemption story.

Matthew 6:27-28
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

1 comment:

Rina said...

I've been hearing so much about "The Shack" but have been a bit reluctant to read it. After what you're written, however, I may go and pick up a copy!