The Lost Coin

11 07 2007

     I ran into someone a few days ago who was doing a bible study on God’s judgement.  Specifically, they were looking at the places where scripture says things like, “Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God?  Don’t fool yourselves.  Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshippers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, theives, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers- none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.” 1Corinthians 6: 9&10
      This person was studying and wondering if, perhaps, we have been wrong to assume that, having done these things, we can still think we can be saved from judgement and damnation. 
      It’s the usual evangelical statement that no matter what you’ve done, if you accept Christ you’re in.  Under this theory, you should expect to greet Dahlmer near the pearly gate.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done: if you repent and ask God’s forgiveness, you’re forgiven.
      But my friend is questioning this.  There are a lot of places where you could read the verses to indicate otherwise.  Jesus himself said that unless you forgive, you will not be forgiven.  What if I slip on some kool-aid and die while I’m still hacked off at my son for leaving his shoes under the table?
      There was a story circulated a couple years ago about a pastor in Africa who was resurrected after being dead and embalmed for a day or so.  He claimed he was taken by angels to see hell, and that they told him that because he died while he was mad at his wife, he would have ended up there.  Only of course, he went back for a second chance.
      This story really upset me, and so did my friend’s questioning.  Because you see, I’m one of the adulterers and idol worshippers and greedy unforgiving people in that verse at the top of the page.  Jesus specifically says that if you’re divorced or marry a divorced person, you’re committing adultery!  There were no extenuating circumstances mentioned.  Since I am divorced and remarried to a divorced man, I’m guilty on both counts.
      So if eternal condemnation for anyone who has remarried after divorce is what that verse means, it doesn’t matter how sorry I am, or what I do from here on out- it’s too late for me.  I’m out.
      I just can’t believe that.  It just doesn’t match the God I know.  He says He’s slow to anger and abounding in mercy, that He’s willing for all to be redeemed.  The bible also says that though my sins be as scarlet, He will wash them whiter than snow.
      Jesus tells a story about a woman who lost a coin.  She tore her house apart looking for it.  (I know just how she felt, because I tear my whole house apart a couple times a week looking for my car keys or a lost tennis shoe.)  When I think about the possibility that something I do or think wrong costing my salvation, I feel like that woman who lost her most precious treasure.  I want to tear my life apart until I fix it, until I find it again.  It makes me feel lost and desperate.
      If I don’t have that security in Christ, what do I have?
      If I could lose it, how can I ever feel safe again?  It frightens me.  To think that something in my past or some mistake in my future could tear me away from God terrifies me. 
      So here is my verse in response, from Romans 8:  “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love.  Death can’t, and life can’t.  The angels can’t, and the demons can’t.  Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing  in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
      And will he condemn me for my past?  No.  “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own?  Will God?  No!  He is the one who has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us?  Will Christ Jesus?  No, for he is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us.”
       Here’s a bit from the same book, Chapter 9- “So recieving God’s promise is not up to us.  We can’t get it by choosing it or working hard for it.”  We can’t earn it by being good, or lose it by messing up.  It’s his gift to us.

I suppose this post is too long already, but I want to tell you about a vision I had once.  I saw an image of all of the people waiting in line after death to be judged by God.  The line passed through a narrow place between two hills.  Upon the hill on the right side, Christ stood.  His cross was there, but he wasn’t on it.  Instead, he was bending down over the heads of the people, touching his palm to their foreheads.  The nail marks in his hands left a mark of blood on their head, and those he touched were taken out of line.  It was sort of like bypassing customs- if you had the mark, you didn’t have to be judged for your sins.
      So everyone was crying out to him to touch them.  They were, like in the bible verse, crying out all the good things they had done.  Some of them were even “Christians” who had gone to church and expected to be chosen, but he didn’t touch them.  And I had the impression that some of the people he chose were suprised.  He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.  The God who sees our hearts, our motives, and our intentions, our secret thoughts, our hidden sins and mercies, will know very well on the day of judgement who is HIS.




One response

12 07 2007

Thank you for that Angela. I especially enjoyed the last paragraph. God’s idea of mercy has a way of throwing a wrench into todays religious system.

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