Pulling into the garage, I’m instantly annoyed. It’s a mess. I can barely get my car into its usual spot and I have to squeeze past boxes of Christmas decorations, piles of clothes and toys waiting to go to Goodwill, and other odds and ends strategically placed to create a nearly impassable obstacle course between me and the door into the house. I eventually make it, but only after one bruised shin (caused by getting my foot caught in my daughter’s bicycle), one aching head (caused by slamming my head into a cupboard while trying to regain my balance after being attacked by the bicycle), and three damaged boxes (caused, of course, by falling into them after my ill-advised attempt at performing a self-lobotomy with the cupboard). Needless to say, by the time I make it into the house, I’m annoyed. Clearly the garage did not get cleaned today. I’ve had a long day at work and I really hadn’t anticipated becoming a contestant in Wipeout as soon as I pulled in the driveway.
Suppose that walking into the house with my frustration, bruised shin, and aching head, I yell at my wife.
Keeping the garage clean isn’t her responsibility, and she’s probably had an even busier and harder day today than I have. But, suppose that I yell at her anyway.
Instantly, we’d have plenty of “tension” in our relationship. (That’s putting it rather mildly.) Things definitely would not be the way they’re supposed to be. Now I’ve added guilt to my frustration, and my wife would rightly feel hurt and angry by how I’ve treated her. All is not well.
Fortunately, my wife is an amazing person. After leaving me alone for a while to sulk, pout, and recover from my traumatic garage experience, suppose she seeks me out and tells me that she forgives me. Wow. I’ve nothing to deserve her forgiveness. Actually, I’ve done just the opposite. And yet, here she is, demonstrating unbelievable grace and seeking to restore our relationship. That’s incredible.
But, it’s not enough.
Let’s change the story a bit. Suppose I’m an alcoholic. On my way home from work that day, I stopped at my favorite bar like I often do and have a few too many. By the time I get home, I’m drunk. Of course navigating my way through the cluttered garage is difficult; I’d have a hard time walking successfully across an empty parking lot.
So, when I get inside the house and yell at my wife, that isn’t just an isolated incident caused by pain and frustration; it’s the act of a person caught in a pattern of addiction and abuse.
Now again, my wife is an amazing woman. So suppose that she’s able to wait until I’ve sobered up, walk into the room, and tell me that she forgives me anyway! That’s still an incredible gift. By reaching out in grace and mercy, she brings reconciliation and restores our relationship with one another. What a tremendous thing to do.
But, it’s not enough.
I’m still broken.
Remember, in this version of the story, I’m an alcoholic. My wife’s forgiveness is a gift to be cherished, but it doesn’t address the deeper reality of my addiction or the fact that I’m likely to do it again. I’m forgiven, but still broken. And, forgiveness without healing simply isn’t good enough. Indeed, forgiveness without healing just sets the stage for telling the same story over and over again.
That’s why God promised more.
Would it really matter that much if God forgave us and sent a new king, a new prophet, and a new priest to lead, guide, and direct us? Those would be great things, but if we remain essentially unchanged, we really wouldn’t have anything different. God has graciously forgiven his people time and time again. And, God has given us kings, prophets, and priests before. But none of them could deliver God’s people from the sin, guilt, brokenness, and alienation that has plagued God’s creation since the Garden. God’s people needed more than a new leader; they needed new life. Not just forgiveness, healing.
A promise of forgiveness doesn’t help if you’re still dead.
That’s why God promised more. God is not just going to send a deliverer, and then leave us mired in our brokenness. No, when his promised one comes, God’s people will be transformed from the inside out: “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek 11:19-20). “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33). This is forgiveness that reaches all the way down and re-creates a people after God’s own heart.
Forgiveness is great, but God promised more.
When he comes…God’s people will be changed.
Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?
- Thomas Kidd asks Is Evangelicalism Standing the Test of Time? The “Fundamentals” at 100.
How much has the evangelical movement changed in the past 100 years? A quick review of The Fundamentals suggests that evangelicals 1) have shed some unfortunate biases of those bygone days, 2) continue to struggle with similar intellectual issues, most notably evolution, and 3) retain a common message of grace through Christ.
- In a Wired editorial, “Wake Up Geek Culture. Time to Die,” Patton Oswalt argues that the internet makes it to easy to be a geek and that is detrimental for creativity and culture.
I’m not a nerd. I used to be one, back 30 years ago when nerd meant something.
- In a NYT piece, Charles Griswold discusses the nature of forgiveness.
forgiveness is neither just a therapeutic technique nor simply self-regarding in its motivation; it is fundamentally a moral relation between self and other.
- Denny Burk offers a few plans for reading through the Greek NT in one year.
- And, if you’re looking for help with your resume, apparently RezScore is a webapp that will grade your resume and offer free advice for improving it. It sounds like it’s worth checking out.
- Andrew Perriman offers some reflections on Anthony Thiselton’s Hermeneutics of Doctrine and the way it is helping him reconsider the legitimacy of doctrine in relationship to biblical interpretation. On a similar note, Justin Taylor discusses Vern Poythress’s view on the matter and offers links to a couple of further resources.
- Paul Alexander explains why the Gospel of John needs to be an equal partner with the Synoptics in constructing our understanding of the historical Jesus and the impact this would have on standard methodological principles. (HT Jim West)
- Jason Goroncy offers a lengthy excerpt from Rowan William’s recent address on the topic of forgiveness.
- Brian LePort offers a roundup of recent posts on the role of women in the church.
- And, a church in Brazil has gotten permission to move forward with its $200m replica of Solomon’s temple.