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No More Ear Chopping

I find myself getting irrationally angry at the “misbehavior” of my 20 month old daughter.  Misbehavior is in quotes because rationally, the curiosity or experimentation of a baby as they interact with a new world cannot at all times be considered rebellious behavior.  Sometimes it is lack of coordination that causes another thing to get broken, sometimes it is lack of impulse control that urges them to grab a handful of someone else’s popcorn or sometimes its just the thrill of hearing the sounds that are possible from one’s own voice without the intention of dancing on the parent’s nerves.  Even tantrums, as infuriating as they are, are about the only time a non-verbal person gets to assert his or her will into a situation.  The point is, I tend to assume the worst motives into behavior that is actually quite appropriate for a baby and not nearly as devious or antagonistic as I read into it.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:33-34a

The people who crucified Jesus were indeed called wicked (in Acts).  It wasn’t that they just were clueless or had some sort of noble intentions that were misinterpreted.  Yet, Jesus knew that they really had no awareness of the full impact of what they were doing nor could they have understood the complexity of story lines which brought them to that time and place.  Their ignorance did not excuse their behavior but it does explain some of Jesus’ compassion for those who were His enemies.  Compassion instead of vengeful wrath is something I could really use.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Matt. 5:43-47

It is human nature to want to punch the person who punches me.  It is natural to despise those who seem to disregard or even oppose me.  That nature, however, came from the first Adam and not the second.  The first Adam wanted the throne of God for his own gain above all others.  The second Adam, whose place on the throne has never been in jeopardy, willingly left His place on it for the gain of the whole creation.  A punch in the face never actually threatened His position, so He didn’t need to fight for it.  The sun in the universe doesn’t have to prove to anyone that it is the sun, it is the sun no matter who or what opposes it. The same is true for the Son.  I get so angry when my children don’t conform to my precise will or someone in another car is rude or that man in the dog park starts a fight over the speed at which I am exiting the area.  My anger is because I feel threatened, my will feels threatened and my ideals for the world around me are threatened.  Jesus never feels threatened because nothing can happen that hasn’t been ordained from the beginning.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.  Gen. 50:19-21

He has not only invited me to share in His nature, but has birthed the life of the second Adam within me.  This means that I don’t need to feel threatened by unexcusably selfish behavior nor lack compassion for ignorantly intended harmful behavior.  God does not go ballistic each time I throw a fit, glare with squinty eyes at someone I’d like to burn a hole through, grab something for myself away from someone else, neglect my responsibilities or knock someone over.  He is patient with me, not wanting me to perish but instead to know Him more and trust Him more.  It is His kindness which leads me to repentance.  It is His unshakable position on the throne that allows for such long suffering and peace in the face of opposition.  Oh might I share in the confident certainty of His will always being accomplished and never being thwarted rather than feel the burden to impose justice on every opponent just like Peter chopping off ears because he just didn’t get it.  Just as I have been forgiven, I can forgive because they do not know what they are doing.

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—  he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.   Romans 3:25-27

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