Zero Degrees of Separation

30 09 2010

I have been working on a lesson for SunLand (Children’s Program) for this weekend; it’s all about the “Good News.” I wrapped it up and woke up today to this verse in Psalms 130:

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness;

therefore you are feared (revered/worshiped/respected/obeyed).

In the beginning we were created to have unbroken communion with God; zero degrees of separation. This idea pleased God and made perfect sense to Him. He gave us freedom to walk lightly and joyfully on the earth, flawless, unburdened, and completely connected to Him. In fact, to remove any suspicion that we were only with Him because we had no other option, He gave us the keys to the relationship: free will. Love out of obligation does not sit well with God; He is and always will be about freedom.

We lost our way in this and thought freedom looked like something else. It didn’t; but by then it was irreversible. You can wish you never did something, but it doesn’t change the fact that you did it. Our rebellion against God would not be an isolated event; it went viral. This “sin” maxed out our credit; the interest (the cost of doing business with sin) alone kept piling on and piling on, suffocating us while we pretended to be happy.

Who can stand under that? This is David’s question in the Psalm. If God actually held everything against us we would be completely ruined, “dead” (as Ephesians 2 says, dead in our transgressions and sins).

But (can’t resist, read the Afterword) the Good News is that God’s character can be described in one word: love. The Bible says it so simply in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.”  He doesn’t just “like” love, he doesn’t just do loving things. He is what love is and love pursues and hopes and finds solutions for the object of one’s affections; we are here because we are that; we are the object of God’s affection and He was meant to be ours.

What would I give to live forgiven? What would I give up to have that relationship back with God? Everything?

This is what is central to the Good News message; that God did not simply create us. That we didn’t simply destroy everything in our path. The Good News is that God sacrificed, God became the sacrifice to give us what we could not attain: forgiveness and a completely (not partially) right standing with Him. David says, in verse 7 that with God there is “full redemption.” Out of love, He gave up Jesus who released us from our sin by His blood (Revelation 1:5) and introduced us to freedom once more.

This is very cool to me: God’s perfect ideas will not be quenched. His idea from the beginning will be the idea in the end. Perfect relationship is what God had in mind, and perfect relationship will win the day.

This has been Good News since the day that Jesus died and rose again.  It was good news in 1899 too when Lewis E. Jones wrote the words to this old hymn, which is how I will sign off today:

Would you be free from the burden of sin?

There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;

Would you o’er evil a victory win?

There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?

There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;

Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;

There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?

There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;

Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;

There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r

In the blood of the Lamb;

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r

In the precious blood of the Lamb.

— Teresa Klassen

Afterword: I was thinking about the word “but” (as I referred to above) and it just struck me how this is arguably one of the best words in Scripture. So many times it seems all is lost, because of our sin and stupidity, “but.” God comes through again and again after the word “but”

…but the Lord relented

…but God remembered

…but God meant it for good

…but God will take care of you

…but God provided

Anyway, Ephesians 2:4 is another one, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

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