we knew how well-loved we are?
There is a deficit in each of us, an uncertainty about who we are and why we are here. Sin-suffering compounds this deficit; we don’t know “who” and “why” in the face of enormous pain. If God were to somehow exist in this ugliness, we wouldn’t want anything to do with such a monster.
The insecurity continues while we seek to make some meaning on our own of our lives here, the birthing and dying of our human brothers and sisters. We sense a commonality with one another but reject the connection when inevitable dysfunction surfaces and divides us.
We look behind ourselves to understand who and why but these “rags and tatters” can’t possibly provide a complete, indisputable record with voices as torn parchment and cities in ruins. We look beyond ourselves but find only galaxies stretching well beyond our comprehension.
These big mysteries defy answers. Time and space exist outside the grasp of what we can hold and define and manipulate. They simply ARE. Who and why remain working hypotheses and ground for much discord. How do we belong in such a hostile environment?
The voice that rises above our misery is mercy. Forgiveness reverberates because it is rebellious. It defies sin by throwing off chains of condemnation to establish clemency. This freedom produces a revelation: in the face of the monstrous and mysterious, it is not answers that satisfy but peace. We begin to belong in one another by being known and accepted.
Mercy goes against every conventional wisdom: evolution and empires (“survival of the fittest”), societal systems of justice and merit (“eye for an eye” and “earn your way”), the “American” dream of individual freedom (“to each his own”). While we are often willing to be lenient like giving in to a child’s plea for candy, we don’t often want to give up like removing a child’s offense from record and without punishment. We don’t mind granting pardon but never wish to give up our right to judge.
Despite our objections, forgiveness surrenders these entitlements. If not from us, where could it possibly come?
While we hope for victory in sufficiency, the conquest has come through a ministry of reconciliation. While we hope for a hero to emerge in valor and strength and a display of power, Jesus Christ modeled those very things in mercy. Sin isn’t his fault but he bore its consequence as our substitute.
The incredulous is not impossible; unlikely and unusual, yes, but rare and wondrous. This is the cross: rare and wondrous. This is us: unlikely and unusual.
We are justified: known and accepted and patiently restored to our original condition.
“Because I love you.”
That’s it and everything. To the degree we believe this, our identity deficit shrinks. Hold fiercely to the knowledge that he designed mercy to delight in you.