Saturday, July 5, 2008

Jeremiah

"The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord,

'I remember the devotion of your youth,
your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness...

'For long ago I broke your yoke
and burst your bonds;
But you said, "I will not serve."
yes, on every high hill
and under every green tree
you bowed down like a whore...

'If a man divorces his wife
and she goes from him
and becomes another man's wife,
will he return to her?
Would not that land be polluted?
You have played the whore with many lovers;
and would you return to me? declares the Lord.'

- Jeremiah 2:2, 20-22; 3:1


I've never been cheated on. At least, if I have, I didn't know about it. But I think the pain would be pretty unbearable, if you genuinely gave someone your everything and they threw it away like that.

And here's God, claiming to be feeling that kind of pain, about his people. That blows my mind. Isn't the God of the Old Testament all about judgment and destruction? Frequently, but that becomes much more understandable if you put yourself in the shoes of a betrayed lover. Anyone who has been the victim of cheating will tell you they feel like doing some judgment and destruction. The issue is personal.

And that's the thing with sin, right? We tend to think of sins the way we think of crimes; they go against some standard, therefore they are "wrong" or "bad." But God's laws aren't the same as the government's laws; God's laws emerge from God's heart, from his very character. God is good. God is love. God is purity, truth, wholeness, joy, and peace. So when we violate love, or purity, or peace, we aren't just violating some arbitrary law God set up; we are violating God's very self. Sin actually hurts God's feelings. Isn't that nuts?

When I think of how much it hurts one human to be cheated on once by one human, with a human relationship, and human-sized love, the scope of God's pain becomes just incomprehensible. It's utterly beyond my understanding.

In 2 Corinthians 5:19, it says that "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them." Seeing sin as cheating on God sheds new light on that reconcilation. It's not just that God forgives us like a judge pardons crimes; it's also that God forgives us like a betrayed lover. Picture Jesus on the cross, bearing the full weight not just of our crime and condemnation, but also the total emotional agony of all our whoredoms.

I just want to experience my sin the same way God experiences it: as pain. Because right now, I largely don't. I'm up on all the high hills, under all the green trees, whoring myself out and, in the moment, not even caring how my spouse feels about it. And yet, I come home every night and he embraces me as his own.

...Hallelu...

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