Early on is this revolution of my faith, one thing was very clear, God was wanting to redefine everything we had come to believe, he was shaking our foundations to the core. He was changing the way we saw everything, all our “theologically correct” answers tasted like sand in the mouth, nothing satisfied, except him.
I decided to wipe the table clean of all that I thought I knew. We swept it all off, worship was first to go, but then prayer, the bible, church, leadership, discipleship, parenting and more. We had a clean slate.
Well except for Jesus, in the previous few years God had given me a real revelation of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus in the Gospels and in this process he had redefined who Jesus really was, as a historical person and as the son of God. It was at this point I had a clear table, with nothing but Jesus and being utterly convinced that he loved me.
So one of the first things he started to redefine was the cross, it’s meaning and what was happening there. One of the things I realised was that God was not angry with me for my sin. I know that is quite a statement to make, but I began to see a God who wasn’t scared of my sin, or poor choices, I was beginning to see Jesus as loving, kind and confident that nothing I could do was going to separate me from him.
I guess the way I had been taught, understood and had taught others, sin and it’s relationship to God looked very similar to Superman and kryptonite. It was like God was allergic to my sin, he couldn’t stand to be around me when I had sinned, and to be honest, really honest, because I have always taken sin seriously, it had ended up being the single most powerful element in my relationship to God. It always seemed that I was trying to apply some theological concept to try to overcome my sin. Or going to a conference, getting a prophetic word, getting prayed for, confessing the sins of my forefathers, making resolutions/promises/covenants to do better, be better, try harder, praying more, worshipping more/harder, all to just overcome my sin and I wasn’t winning.
I was starting to see that even in the garden, God was not scared of my choices, or Adams. God had already made a way in Jesus for us to be in relationship before the foundations of the earth were made by Jesus, which meant I was truly free to choose. I could choose well or poorly and he was going to love me. Yes there are consequences for those choices and yes we are responsible for our choices, but the more I connected with the genuine love he had for me, and the real freedom he was giving me, the more my heart was changing.
There are many aspects to sin, but for me one of the best ways to sum it up is that sin is trying to take for myself what God hasn’t given me. I believe that it is when I lose sight of God’s love for me, that like Adam and Eve, I try and grab, take or manipulate people, things, situations and even God to get for myself what I believe I deserve, or will make me happy, or satisfied, or is God’s will for me. However when I am receiving his love, it becomes easier to trust him, even if I don’t understand what he is doing.
I have begun to see that God doesn’t need to punish sin, and sin is it’s own punishment. I was always taught that what God was doing on the cross was punishing Jesus for my sin, and I am not saying he wasn’t doing that, I just think that that was a small part of what he was doing on the cross. I think that this idea of God needing to punish sin has been given way too much weight in the “church” and in other areas of our lives. For example parenting. When our kids do something wrong we believe we need to punish the behaviour, so that the kid will know that his/her behaviour is unacceptable, then we as christian parents feel like we have done a great job. What we do is our children’s sin scares us, so we punish it, so that we can bring them back under our control, so that we will have control of the thing that scares us. For a christian parent, there is nothing worse than having children that are “out-of-control”.
I have found in Jesus a God who wants reconcile himself to me, a God who wants to deal with my sin, but not punish me for it. A God who’s wrath against sin is best described by Wayne Jacobsen as “the full weight of His being coming against that which would threaten or destroy the object of His affection”. For me where punishment falls short is that while it appears to deal with sin, it actually neglects to deal with the root of sin. What we need is more than punishment, we need a cure for sin.
Yes the Old Testament has lots of punishment language in it, but I think God used that to help ease people’s sense of shame so that he could get close enough to them to try and win their hearts. However I think we would agree that by the end of the Old Testament we can see that despite everyones best efforts the sin problem has not been dealt with. Enter Jesus, the cure of God.
Yes Jesus washes our sins away, forgives our sins, pays the price for our sins, ransomed us from sin but actually becomes sin for us. He becomes sin, absorbs sin into himself, he doesn’t just take our sins off of us, or hold our sins (kind of like you hold a garbage bag when you carry it out for collection), he absorbs sin into himself, becoming sin, why? So that God the Father can pour the chemotherapy of his wrath into the vessel of his son Jesus, destroying sin itself. Or as N.T. Wright says all the evil and wickedness of the world converged onto this one point, which is Jesus, doing it’s worst to him and Jesus exhausting the power of evil, resurrected to a new physical bodily life is victorious.
Jesus has become the cure for sin and we are cured when God reconciles us to himself and places us in Jesus. This is God’s grace to us, that we are placed in Jesus.
I started this blog saying that I swept the table clean of all my theological ideas and answers, and that God has been redefining them. The funny thing is that even though he has redefined things like the cross, the bible, the Gospel, Grace, the Church, my table is still clear except for Jesus, it’s not that I have more answers, but that my vision of Jesus is richer.
I would love it if you shared how you are connecting with Jesus