I know there’s a lot of complex paradoxes in the Bible. It’s hard to get. God is both endless (beyond any bounds we can imagine) and imminent (closer than the thoughts in our head). He is light and there is no darkness in Him at all and yet He chooses to be among people lost in darkness.
Living the Christian life is the same. Somehow, I am called to be holy and yet sin lives in me. God has given me endless power and yet I seem incapable of making choices that are right, and powerless to follow through on good choices I have made. I am a frustrated bottle of good intentions all shaken up.
The thing that has been on my mind is what the church presents. We are supposed to evidence the standards of God as perfection and holiness and yet make known to people that God loves sinners. We try to tell people that God is infinitely righteous and yet He lives with us and we are the worst kind of scum. And people hear the message in all the wrong order. If God likes us then we must be ok, right? Therefore, God’s standards must be just about the same as ours?
We must start with fear. It seems kind of wrong to present fear, but the Bible is full of fear and fear being relieved. If there’s no fear, then that which is boundless forgiveness seems like a little pat on the back. If there’s no problem, then the death of Jesus can be presented as a nice example of kindness, rather than the violent destruction of the God of heaven, that was absolutely necessary in order to win back His broken people.
We need to find a way. People think that church people are nice people, they think that church teaches us to be good. And they think this is a Christian country, that the laws of the land show how to be good. This town and these people are so far from getting it. God will never diminish. I need to somehow show that He is endless in His justice.
I guess what I’m saying is that it is impossible to understand love without knowing the price that love paid, and it’s impossible to know the price that was paid without knowing how immensely far we are from good. When we say, “Jesus loves you” they hear “Jesus thinks you’re doing all right” or “Jesus will never hold you accountable, never demand change from you and doesn’t care what you do.” What a task, to try and change that! It’s impossible, unless our God is endless…