Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lent + 4 - The key word is forgivness

“I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me…” – Jesus (John 13:21)

I can imagine the scene: The casual glances around the room, the shifts in posture, the sideways looks, the sense of affront elicited by well-honed truth.

And I know that look, the one the disciples give Jesus when he calls them out. I used to teach middle school and, believe me, I know. It’s the same look a 13 year old boy will give when you stop him on his way to doing something inappropriate, and he simply can’t fathom how in the universe his teacher can read his mind so clearly. So he employs the only strategy he knows – denial.

“Not me, Lord; no how, no way...” I can just see the disciples, nervously fidgeting in their seats, ready to finger one of their friends. Because they all know that they are capable, all know that betrayal had already happened in so many ways, all wondering if Christ had figured them out.

Well they need not have worried. One of the great things about Jesus is that he does figure us out. Kind of takes the pressure off, really, understanding that we can’t fool him any more than we can fool ourselves. Remember how the Master also pointed out that the truth has the power to set us free? It sets up the imperative of honesty and allows us – requires us – to take things from there.

Have you ever wondered why confession is such an important element in traditional worship? Confession clears the air, it gives us a chance to acknowledge what God already knows:
  • Yes, Lord, I have sinned.
  • Yes, I have come short of your best.
  • Yes, I know that I need your forgiveness in so many ways.
I made this New Year’s resolution one time. Nothing like “Lose weight,” “Jog daily,” or “Spend less” – although I must admit each of those do have merit. No, this one was my best resolution ever. “I resolve to actively and deliberately try to BE THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST in my work environment.”

Now that’s a great concept. Much better than handing out tracts on street corners or doing the whole “bull-horn thing” to strangers at the mall. The problem, however, is my constant failure, my inherent sinfulness shoving its way – rudely – through. When I fall short of being, as Paul puts it, “Christ’s ambassador", then I really am actually betraying Jesus and in much the same way he predicted.

Yes, Judas did betray Jesus, but then so did Peter. The difference is that Peter accepted forgiveness and moved on. Judas was unable to let Christ love him that way. I need to be open with Jesus and let him love me too.

When we confess our sins; when I confess my sin. Paul reminds us that God is faithful and just to forgive us those sins. The key word here is not betrayal, it’s not even sin; the key word is forgiveness.

PRAYER: We understand that we betray you every day, Jesus. Help us to walk more clearly in your light, and grant us peace as we walk in the truth of the forgiveness that you purchased at such cost. Amen

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