Monday, March 21, 2011

Seven Times Seventy

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One of the most scandalous parts of the Gospel has got to be that Jesus associated Himself with scumbags (by the world's standards) and not only ate dinner with them (Mark 2:15-17), but proclaimed that these will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 21:31-32) and that He died to forgive them of their sins (Romans 5:6-10).

I don't know about you, but I'm offended by this! If you think about the modern day translation, it would be analogous to going to drug treatment centers, prisons, visiting the streets and under bridges, and telling the broken people in these places that they are heirs to God's Kingdom - royalty in rags! Furthermore, all of the terrible things these people have done which have resulted in their (and others') lives being destroyed are the reason Christ voluntarily gave up His throne to become flesh, suffer and die on that cross.

The scandalousness of the gospel hits home the most for me when I think about my own life. I know that I'm supposed to repent of my sins, and that's all fine. But the hardest thing, I think, is to forgive someone else for sins they committed against me when I was completely innocent. I have done no wrong to deserve their sins against me, and I am completely justified in my indignation. This is where the scandal of the cross really shines, because to forgive in this case is completely ridiculous.

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But that's exactly what God did through Christ's obedience on the Cross for me. God has done nothing to deserve my rebellion against Him, and yet He has forgiven me fully. He has chosen to remember my sins no more. What's more, He has also, through that forgiveness, made me an heir with Christ to His Eternal Kingdom. Talk about lavishly undeserved!

And there's more... while God truly was completely undeserving of my rebellion, I can't say the same thing about myself when others sin against me. I may not have deserved the specific actions done to me, but because we as people have chosen to rebel against God, our debt is to die. In other words, the wrongs others commit against me are the product of sin and yet they are grace from God because I am deserving of so much worse. This is where the real scandal lies.

Chris August's song 7x70 is a beautiful composure of this concept of forgiveness. If you watch his "Behind the Story" interview to this song, you can see for yourself how powerful God's forgiveness is in changing our lives. It's changed his and it's changing mine every day that I choose, along with Chris, to forgive as God has forgiven me.

I pray that you will search your heart and find a place where you have been wronged, and consider forgiveness. Christ died to break you from the chains of that wound, freeing you to live with joy and love without fear. His death gives us life!

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