Tag Archives: Cleveland

Would God Forgive You?

The kidnapper in Cleveland and the bomber brothers in Boston raise an important question: Could they ever be forgiven by God?  How about you?  We have been hammering away at the meaning of Isaiah 57:15, about how the Creator of the Universe, Almighty God, Who lives beyond the dimensions of time and space, said He would live in the soul of the lowly and contrite.  If you are just joining us, go to the page listed in the menu above where the posts are listed in order.  But how about it: if the surviving bomber or the kidnapper truly became contrite and lowly, would either of them qualify?  Read what God said next in Isaiah:

I will not accuse forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint  before me— the breath of man that I have created.   I was enraged by his sinful greed; I punished him, and hid my face in anger, yet he kept on in his willful ways.   I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him.  (Isaiah 57:16-18)

God says He sees.  He knows.  But He is also ready to forgive.  To forgive but, even better, to restore and heal, to guide and comfort.  Who?  The lowly and contrite, the person who wakes up to the reality of Who God truly is, and by contrast, how sinful and unable to stop screwing up we humans are.  Ever watch those shows on cable where they restore old antiques?  Amazing!  Ever cut yourself badly and eventually see that it has been healed?  Imagine having the wounds of your soul healed.  Ever try to fix your computer and make it worse?  And yearn for someone who really knows to come and guide you – and restore comfort to your tangled emotions?  Read through that chunk of Isaiah again and consider those promises.

BUT, BUT, BUT!!!   If the bomber and the kidnapper get off, it just wouldn’t be right  – right?

Yes, insofar as justice is concerned.  And justice matters to God (remember: He is perfect!).  So which matters more to God – justice or forgiveness?  That question sets up a riddle about the character of God.  Here’s how God presented the riddle to Moses:

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7a)

God is forgiving of wickedness, rebellion and sin but insists that the guilty be punished.  Hmmm…   How can that be?  I will forgive you, but first I have to kill you?  That riddle is solved, later in the Bible.  God gave a big hint to Isaiah.  He gave the Solution, 700 years after that.   Chew on that, and stay tuned…   

Set Free to Live Free

“Help me. I’m Amanda Berry! I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”  What a gripping story!  Three women who had been kidnapped and held as slaves for over 10 years, escaped those bonds yesterday and were reunited with their families. We were repulsed by the wickedness of such a crime. We were compelled by the urgency and fear in the voice of the one who called 911, spellbound by the looks on their faces of joy and relief, mixed with fear and uncertainty. Vicariously, we joined the neighbors in celebrating their freedom. Those women must feel as though they have been taken from a place of death and been set free to live again.

And in all of that, I was reminded of how Jesus came to us, how He suffered and died to set us free from the one who had kidnapped us and held us in bondage. In Jesus we cross over from slavery to freedom, from sin to righteousness, from death to life! Jesus compared our situation in this world to that of sheep who have been stolen by a thief. He said,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.   John 10:10

One of the women who escaped came out with a young daughter, who must have been born and raised in captivity.  If that is so, the only life that little girl had ever known was that of a slave.  It is conceivable that she had no real understanding of her situation, nor of what freedom could bring. The same is true for us all, as we are born into a world of captivity and spiritual deadness.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:34&36

He said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.   John 5:24

What about you?

If you have never experienced the freedom and life available to all those who truly believe in Jesus, I urge you to look into it carefully. Don’t casually dismiss a freedom you don’t understand. If you have questions, I will gladly respond – with logic and sincerity, not dogma and emotional manipulation.

If you have experienced this life and freedom in Christ, please consider this: The older women who escaped are unlikely to ever want to return to that house of horrors. But the little girl who grew up there, who may think of that place as her home, may experience some yearnings to do so.  And sometimes, so do we, who have been set free in Christ.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1