By the time you get this edition of the Link, Easter will be around the corner. Easter speaks of many things, of love, sacrifice, hope and new beginnings; it also speaks of reconciliation and forgiveness. Surely some of the most powerful words ever spoken are these: ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ Imagine for a moment if you can the horror of what Christ experienced and yet his cry to the father is for forgiveness. Remarkable! What kind of person would pray a prayer like that? The kind of person who loves you through and through, who loves you in spite of the bits that are not loveable!
JI Packer writes, ‘There is tremendous relief in knowing that God’s love for me is based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst in me. No discovery can disillusion Him in the way I’m so often disillusioned about myself or quench His determination to bless me. There is great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that others don’t see. Indeed He sees more corruption in me than I see in myself. Yet He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order for me to realise this purpose.’
I would love a pound for every time a person has said to me, church isn’t for me … you wouldn’t want my sort in a nice church like yours. My response is … really? We’d love to have you join us … you’ll fit in better than you think! Why? Because even below the most well manicured lawn you’ll find the same stuff you find below a lawn like mine and to be honest it is not a pretty sight.
Some time ago I heard the story of a husband who bought a rather unusual birthday present for his wife … a cleaner. For one year this person would come in and do the household chores. His wife didn’t react the way he had hoped. Now every Thursday morning they get up earlier than usual to thoroughly clean the house before the cleaner arrives! He asked his wife, ‘Tell me the logic of this: I am paying for a person to clean up the house and you want to clean it up first?” Her response, “I don’t want people to think we’re slobs!”
He went on to apply this to the way many of us relate to God. Before I can open up my life to God, I need to clean up my act. I can’t come to God the way I am. God says, “Come to Me! Bring the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing, the stuff you’re ashamed of, the stuff nobody else knows about. Bring it all to me and we’ll work on it together.” God knows every single thing you’ve ever done. He knows every single thing you’ve ever thought and yet he still longs for a relationship with you. I guess that is the radical forgiveness Easter expresses and it is one of the reasons I wouldn’t exchange my relationship with God for all the tea in China.
Come to church this Easter, whether it is with us, St Denys or Thornhill, it doesn’t matter you’ll find the same kind of people at each.