Perfecting Imperfection

Our journey through Hebrews continues this week as the writer again makes the case for Jesus’ superiority as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. He points out the futile efforts of the human priests, who can’t make a dent in the sin problem, and the single sacrifice made by Jesus that wipes out sin forever. 

Hebrews 10:11-18 (Common English Bible)

11 Every priest stands every day serving and offering the same sacrifices over and over, sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right side of God. 13 Since then, he’s waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for his feet, 14 because he perfected the people who are being made holy with one offering for all time.

15 The Holy Spirit affirms this when saying,

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them.
After these days, says the Lord,
I will place my laws in their hearts
and write them on their minds.
17 And I won’t remember their sins
and their lawless behavior anymore.[a]
18 When there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer an offering for sin

In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, verse 14 reads like this:

 “It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people” (Hebrews 10:14 The Message). Preach it, Eugene! We are indeed some very imperfect people. The Holy Spirit affirms our condition of imperfection and points us toward a new plan. This new covenant will be placed in our hearts and written on our minds. Thanks be to God!

The imagery of God’s new plan being written in our hearts goes a long way toward a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s plan. God desires this covenant to be engraved not just on our hearts, but in our hearts… in other words, the deepest, inside part … of our hearts. God does not desire a superficial relationship with us but wants us to present the most inner part of our souls. We are invited to love God from the “inside-out.”

 Let’s take this in a different direction now. If God provided the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, can we really be unforgiving toward each other’s sin? And if we continue to hold grudges and refuse to forgive one another, what does that say about the power of the cross? It seems to say that our stubbornness is greater than the blood that was shed there. Everyone loves to be forgiven but we sure can be measly when it comes to forgiving others. Does that make sense? In this passage, God promises to not remember our sins and our lawless behavior anymore. This is the way we are to respond to one another, even in those situations where the offender has not asked for forgiveness.

 God calls us to forgiveness and Jesus made it conditional in the Lord’s Prayer when he said, “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” The phrase “as we forgive” means that we must give as good as we have gotten. And sometimes that is very, very hard.

 Is God calling you to forgive someone today? Remember that often the burden of unforgiveness is hardest on you, not the one who hurt you. Jesus’ perfect offering wiped your slate clean. Maybe it is time for you to wipe clean all the other slates in like manner..

Old Buoy by Michelle Robertson

Weapons of Light

In Star Wars mythology, the light saber is a weapon against both good and evil. It just depends on whose hand it is in. The preferred weapon of the Jedi, a light saber is a small pipe-shaped mechanism that extends a powerful beam of lethal energy when engaged. The color of light is different for each Jedi. Luke Skywalker’s light is blue. Kylo Ren’s is deep red. In Luke or Rey’s hand, the light saber fights evil. In Darth Vadar’s hand, it fights good.

Any weapon can be used by either side.

So in this season of anger, animosity, national outrage, and widespread unrest, what would happen if we weaponized love?

Romans 13 (Contemporary English Version)

Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. 10 

Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.

Paul succinctly boils the Ten Commandments down to one word: love. If we follow the law of love we wouldn’t need the other individual laws because they would already be incorporated into the overriding rule of love. If love were the law of the land, hatred, violence, anger, and civil disobedience would subside.

11 As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep.

This ancient writing applies to this present day. We need to wake up and see what our words and actions are reaping. The hate speech, violent protests, and the vitriol that permeates our news programs, our social media, our sidewalk conversations, and our attitudes are killing us. People are hurting. People are dying. People are experiencing depression in record numbers. It’s time to wake up.

Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light.

My friends, you have a weapon of light in your hand. It is the love of Jesus for the world. It is a love that bled and died on a cross for your salvation. It is a love that is unconditional for ALL people. And when used properly, it is a force of power that can conquer any force of evil that comes along.

YOU are a weapon of light. Use your power for good and fight back with love. Dress yourself in the armor of the Lord Jesus Christ and go out and love like your life depends on it. Because frankly, it does. 

13 Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession. 

14 Instead, dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires.

What’s in YOUR hand? Let it be love.

Let Love Light Your Way by Michelle Robertson