Friday, April 3, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 40: The Price of Forgiveness

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

There is no better topic for Good Friday than the issue of "forgive us our sins" and the price that was paid for that forgiveness. Understanding the price paid for forgiveness requires that we understand the need for forgiveness. On this early morning, the birds are filling the air with song, light is just beginning to fill the sky, and peace reigns, or so it appears. The stain of sin seems far removed, but the vision from which I shrink is the dark blot of sin in me. 

My preference is to think of myself as the daughter of the King of heaven, but that relationship was made possible only by the unbounded mercy that covered my sin. When God created this world and placed man (and woman) in it, He pronounced it good. There was nothing evil or wrong or bad in it. No sin. 

This is hard for me to comprehend, but there was no sin in Adam or Eve, either. There was choice, though, and it was that choice that ushered sin right in the door to its happy home in the hearts of humankind. It wasn't the serpent that brought sin into the world. He wrapped it in an attractive package, but it was mankind who unwrapped that package and embraced sin with open arms.

In their defense, Adam and Eve did not believe the consequences of sin would be so great, so far reaching. When Eve reached out for the fruit that would, she believed, make her wise, she was not yet a mother. She never once considered that her decision would result in one of her sons murdering the other, nor that the murdering son would be lost to her, as well. Would she or Adam have done something that would result in the loss of their two sons? Maybe not, if they had realized the price. 

That's one of the problems with sin. All we see is the enticing option. We never see the long-term cost. If we did, it might stop us in our tracks. It is the nature of sin, however, that the price is great and the payday is, many times, long in coming. If I am honest about my own sin, I have to admit that my bad choices, my sin, though long repented and forgiven, still reap a price years later. Sin is far more attractive than it should be. 

If we only knew the price, I think, and then I remember. We do know the price. God gave us the law, and we kept right on sinning. He allowed discipline and we responded by cleaning up our acts for a time, then, like a dog returning to its vomit, we went right back to the sin we loved. 

I had a horse that could not be broken once. I tried everything to gentle him, without success, then finally, reluctantly sold him. He did not have a good end, but, by the time of our parting, I had endured enough of him. He was welcome to whatever came his way. God, however, did not respond to our sin by giving up on us. He did not abandon us to our own wickedness. God, in His infinite mercy, said, "There is a price that must be paid for all of Leanna's sin, for all mankind's sin, and it is so high that I will have to pay it Myself." And He did. 

Scripture tells us about the cross. We know with our mind what it cost Christ to pay our debt, but our hearts cannot take it in. He endured terror and pain, death and shame, and He did it for me. For you.  

It is customary to spend some time considering the cross on Good Friday, but our time might be well spent in considering our compulsion to sin that made the cross necessary. For today, I'm asking God to show me my sin the way He sees it, to show me the ways in which my sin made the cross necessary. I know my sin. What I need to see, all over again, is how God sees my sin, for it is only when I see myself as I am that I can truly understand the enormity of what Jesus did for me, the horrific price He paid. We aren't meant to stay in this difficult place, but it is important to visit it long enough to appreciate the light that Christ bought for us. Join me today on this journey of self-enlightenment, this journey of darkness, as we see ourselves in the light of God and recognize our own unworthiness.