Originally scheduled for May 26
If there is one
characteristic that defines the average Christian, it is his love of
bargaining with God.
We want a
contract with God; his covenant seems to be too restrictive, as he
the terms. So we just tell him we are negotiating
We want to tell
him what the end result of the process is going to be — we know how
this is supposed to turn out, we know who lives and who dies and we
know what we want — so it must be the right answer.
In short, we want
to be in charge of the discussion and relationship. The net result
is that we expect God to think that we are indeed wonderful people.
Sometimes we are puzzled with how God fails to be impressed with
both our charity and our genius.
This is really
not as much a surprise as it seems. We are dealing with God as if he
were another person just like us. He is not. He is the creator of
the universe, and by his will the laws of the universe were created
and are kept. That includes the laws of physics as well as the laws
of ethics. You might as well negotiate with God concerning right and
wrong as negotiate with him about the strength of gravity.
area that serves as a good example is the concept of mercy in the
form of forgiveness. Our vision is that when we forgive others that
we have put God in our debt — so much so that he is obliged to
forgive us too. The foolishness of this can be seen by comparing the
mercy we get for the mercy we give. Our mercy is tainted mercy; we
are always putting conditions on it and frankly being sinners we are
not capable of pure mercy. God, in return for this, promises us his
holy mercy. He is the one who is offended by every sin; he is the
one who is perfect and sinless. He does this by covenant, offered to
all of his children — not by a contract negotiated with each one.
We are often
proud of our forgiveness. We think how much it costs us to forgive
someone who has grievously offended us. But whatever the cost to us,
is a cost to a sinner. The mercy that God showed us at the cross is
pure and holy — and was bought at a much greater price.
We find the
reminders of this in communion. In the bread we see the body of
Christ, nailed to a cross and hung there for an agonizing death. In
the cup we see his blood, splattered all over the ground. It looks
like a crime scene — and that is what it is. An innocent man should
not be executed, but Christ endured it so that you might have
forgiveness at his expense. So as you partake this morning, remember
that his grace to you, his forgiveness, is given freely. It far
exceeds anything you can do. It is not a bargain we make with God —
it is the miracle of Grace.