Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Ugly Truth of Forgiveness

Forgiveness COSTS. It costs big. It is quite expensive and, in fact, few can afford it. Truly, there is no such thing as forgiveness without cost.
For a perfect God who must keep all his own laws and promises, there is only atonement, then forgiveness. The atonement is paying the price, then the issue is forgotten and expunged from the record... you have paid your debt, done your time.

With man, this is also true. When the benificent uncle who loaned you $50 or $50,000 says “your debt is forgiven,” you may think that there is an example of absolute free forgiveness. Your uncle paid. He paid big. The criminal thief may be forgiven his crime by the victim but the victim pays... even with the return of goods stolen! There is loss of time, effort, security, and trust. Over time the loss can be cumulative if it happens often and cynicism creates scar tissue of the soul. He indeed pays for the criminal’s sin.

My sin is forgiven only due to the death of Jesus on the cross. He is the example of forgiveness. No greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for another.

If I am to forgive others... I must pay... and the perfect payment is death.

I died to sin so sin no longer has its hold on me. We often think in self-centered ways about that verse. That I, myself, will not be tempted to sin... or that sin’s payment is not applied to me (forgetting all the while that Jesus’ death did that, not my own “work” at dying). But there is also a social aspect to that verse. The sins of others have no affect on a dead man. If I am to forgive as Christ forgives, then I have to be willing to pay the price for other’s sins in a local, social, temporal sense. If someone sins against me, the only way to forgive is when I die to myself in atonement for their sin against me. Indeed, I cannot die FOR him as Christ does. But I can die for his benefit, and mine, in a social and corporate sense. Without this ugly truth, that I must die to ALL sin, even another’s, there is no forgiveness. AS you forgive, so you shall be forgiven. AS you die to sin, so sin shall die to you.

Without the self-death and the personal resurrection of Jesus within us, not only is there little ability to forgive others, but there is little ability to live under a “go forth and sin no more” lifestyle as Jesus instructs. Surely I am not literally dead and truly I am not in a literal “sin no more” life... these states of being are from Grace as I live under the obedience to Christ. His death is sufficient to assure my death. His resurrection is powerful enough for me to be assured of my resurrection. His forgiveness is complete enough to cover my inability to forgive. I am not perfect. But I am being perfected in Him, I move in that direction as it were. If I am to be under grace then I give my failures to him... and again, it costs me (in submission to Him) and I must die to the self.

There is no forgiveness without personal cost.

Go forth and sin no more, dead man.

-The Haggard

My "Life Cannon"

Aaron Stoller had a great idea on his blog: list off ten texts that make up your personal canon at the moment.  Go here to see the rules and then post your own and tell me, or Aaron... or Tripp Fuller at (where I first saw this idea).
“each one of us operates with our own canon. In other words, acknowledged or not, each of us operates with a set of guiding texts (or pieces within texts) which influence our paradigm and our lives moment-to-moment. And of course these text change as we pass through periods of our lives”

So here is my own Life Cannon, according to the rules:
1 - The Boxed Set DVDs of FIREFLY
2 - The Special Edition DVD of SERENITY
3 - The novel DUNE
4 - The Movie “Stop Making Sense” by The Talking Heads
5 - “The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer” (in one book)
6 - The Homebrewed Christianity Podcast
7 - The original Japanese TV seres “Mobile Suit Gundam”
8 - The Japanese TV seres “Gundam Seed” and “Gundam Seed Destiny”
9 - “Christian Apologetics” by Cornelius Van Til (because it hurts my brain)
10 - “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis (because it soothes my brain)

So, what’s in your cannon?
The Haggard

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interesting Music at the Vegi Buffet

Today I heard Jesus being declared in a Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant. I eat there because the food is good, the price is great, and I get to be a Jesus Guy around a group of non-hostile non-believers. Who knows where that relationship will lead? I was amazed at the music; “He Carried Me” and “He was my Sacrifice” and “Everlasting Arms” and “People need the Lord” and “I Need Thee Every Hour” sang through the store. I asked the waitress if I could see the CD case for the music... she popped out the disk from the player and it was a home made DVD of MP3s. I was there two hours studying and never heard a song repeated and I never heard a song that was not instantly recognizable as Christian. I saw Buddhist monks tapping their toe to “Jesus is the Only Way” and patrons hearing about “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” Alas, it was ALL in English and most people there had no idea what they were hearing. I asked the waitress if she knew what kind of music this was. She didn’t. Nor did her co-workers. I told them it was Christian Music. They looked a little frightened and I thought I may have poisoned the well, that they would remove the songs. They looked at me with soulful eyes and asked “Doe Ke Yi?” (is that okay with you?) I smiled and said YES! So they popped the DVD back in the player and continued. I asked if they were Christians and they said no. They just like the sound of the music. I have come across that a great deal in Taiwan. People who will not become Jesus people for whatever reason, still seem to appreciate the Jesus Music. There is nothing like it here. There are NO songs in praise to Buddha or Matzu or to the Tao. The shear joy and peace that some hear in singing to Jesus, live or on tape, draws them. It is so cool. Yet, how can they believe unless someone goes to them?