Surprised by Redemption
On my blog I once quoted a sermon from author and pastor Peter Hiett. Here’s an excerpt from the blog post called “Did Jesus Come Just to Kick Your Ass?”
“So I’m convinced your deepest problem is not the cigarettes you smoke or the alcohol you drink in secret. It’s not the slander you speak and the gossip you cherish. It’s not the pornography you pleasure yourself with when no one’s looking. It’s not the baby you aborted; it’s not that you betrayed your brother, cheated on your bride, lied about the whole thing . . . It’s not even that you slaughtered the Lamb and killed the Messiah. Your deepest problem is that somewhere deep down inside, you believe Jesus the Messiah rose from the dead just to kick your ass, when, in fact, He rose from the dead so you would believe all is forgiven. It is finished! Justice is accomplished. And the Father is pleading, ‘Come home, come home, come home!’”
A reader took offense to my post. He left me this query:
“I'm not sure what Hiett is talking about. Pardon my ignorance here. And whatever he's talking about, I'm not seeing the necessity to use profanity to make the point. Could anyone explain?”
My response was, “Beats the hell out of me!”
Actually, I’m just kidding. Hiett is trying to say that most of us are afraid of God. We consider our sin the biggest deal, but our biggest problem is that we won't receive the grace and tenderness of our God. He's not saying sin isn't an issue but that we can get lost in worry, guilt and shame and miss out on the stupendous, radical love of God because we see him as a stern, cold disciplinarian and not Abba, a loving father.
The use of the word ass instead of buttocks or rear end was probably a little for shock value but also it helped people get past their church face and get in touch with their underlying guilt and shame. An antidote for shame is acceptance – one aspect of grace. God accepts us even in our heinous sin (Romans 5:8), but that isn't the present reality for most of us.
For the longest time I lived with an unhealthy fear of God. I forgot just how afraid I was until I had dinner recently with my college roommate, Stan.
Stan and his family came to town, so we gathered our kids and went out to dinner. As we chatted about college life and God, Stan remembered thinking that I was coming to God on my own time.
I attended church once or twice with Stan in high school when I visited him to play golf. But in college I never attended church with him.
At dinner, Stan recalled asking me to go on one occasion. He said I replied, "Stan, I know I need to go. I am just not ready to feel that bad about everything I’m doing." We all busted out laughing.
God sure has me now.
The irony is as I kept God at bay I really felt worse and worse. Several years after I lived with Stan I eventually became suicidal. Talk about feeling bad!
I am reminded that in all my time of truly being in relationship with God and the light of His Love He has never made me feel bad. I may have felt shame, guilt or sorrow because I turned my back on Him, but that’s expected in any relationship when you hurt someone you dearly love.
How often we forget St. Paul's words that we sing in church; it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance. God is kind. He is about redemption, grace and love. He didn’t kick my ass. He brought me home to be with Him and to have a party.
How do you view God? Is He a stern, cold disciplinarian, or Abba, a loving Father? What events do you believe shaped your view?
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