Monday, November 25, 2013

A Never Turning Away God

Have you ever had second thoughts about telling someone the truth - the raw gritty reality of what you did or what you think? It is a heart-palpitating thought. If you have, you know what I'm talking about. You are horrified at the thought of your own transgression and your heart begins to beat a little faster. What will they think? What will their eyes speak? Will their expression say everything? Coming clean is a daunting assignment. The questions haunt you; Will they still love me? How could they still love me? It wouldn't surprise me if they walk away. I'd walk away from me too...

A friend recently confessed a secret. Later that evening she commented that of everything we talked about over the course of several hours, she most appreciated the fact that upon hearing her secret, my demeanor never changed. 


 noun \di-ˈmē-nər\
: a person's appearance and behavior : the way someone seems to be to other people

That one comment has radically changed how I respond to others in those moments. I don't want to be fake, but I do want to be genuinely riveted by Christ's work on my behalf; so much so that I cannot turn my face away in judgement, condemnation or disgust. The truth is, I almost never get this right. My face typically says everything I feel! I try and arrange my eyes and mouth differently, but most times I am an open book. *sigh*

One of the most shocking illustrations of being unaffected by horrific sin is the account in John chapter 8. A woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus. We don't know what his face looked like, but hearing the words he spoke tells us he was not aghast. He simply said "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She responded "No one, Lord." And he told her, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." His demeanor never changed. Jesus, headed toward the cross, was so in tune with human experience that he understood the temptations of man. He himself had faced temptation. He loved people and had compassion on those beat up by the hardness of life. How could he condemn her? He loved her. 

He knew what was coming. He would experience that same sin as he took the sins of humanity upon himself at the cross. He knew where he was headed. His prayer at Gethsemane demonstrated his anguish over the work at hand. He cried "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."

Even on the cross, Jesus' demeanor never changed. The mocking, the spitting, the humiliation - all the rage and emotions of the angry mob hurled at him had no effect. And, if that is not shocking enough, there's more...

"Into Your Hands" by Jeffrey Smith
The One Christ should have been able to count on, the very One who named him My Son, turned His face away. Christ saw his Father turn his face away and cried out in anguish; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment when Christ took on your sin and mine, God turned his face away. 

Christs' demeanor towards us never changes because God's demeanor toward him did.

How is it that Jesus can look on you and look on me not with condemnation for our sin, but with love for sinners? The only way was through the cross. 

God had to look away, so Jesus could look our way. 

Christ was condemned so that we would never face condemnation. The penalty had to be paid, justice had to be served. Jesus paid it all. He served the time to set us free. Jesus freed us from ever facing a turning away God.

In Christ, God will never turn his face away. His demeanor toward you and toward me will never change. The good news of the gospel means God is always looking our way with one expression, Love.

In Christ, there are no folded arms, furrowed brows or pursed lips. 

In Christ, we find open arms and Loves' perfect expression. 

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