February 10, 2016
“For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
It’s Ash Wednesday again. It’s that day when we are inescapably brought face to face with our mortality, called to repent and beckoned to re-up our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s Ash Wednesday again. It’s a rehearsal of the saddest day in the history of history. It is a solemn remembrance of the fateful choice of our ancient ancestors to break faith with God. Into a world of unending blessing, we chose an unfathomable curse.
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19.
It’s Ash Wednesday again. It’s a reminder that death was never part of the plan. The plan of God and the will of God are always life, life, and more life. And despite the dark entry of death, God’s plan remains. It’s why Jesus came proclaiming,
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
It’s Ash Wednesday again. It’s a moment to realize that Jesus was not plan B or plan C. Jesus was always plan A. For God to create human beings in his own image meant they would be made in the image of perfect love. To be made in the image of perfect love meant they would be endowed with perfect freedom. And to be endowed with perfect freedom necessarily required the possibility of choosing something other than the will of God, which is the way of love. A God who knows the end and the beginning and every second inbetween and whose nature is perfect love need not preordain redemptive love any more than he need predestine love’s failure. Love is and love does as love wills. God is not love because he loves. God loves because he is love. In similar fashion, a person is not a sinner because he sins. Rather, a person sins because he is a sinner. A person will not become a lover because she loves. A person will become a lover because she has been loved, and a person will love because she has become a lover.
It’s Ash Wednesday again. It’s time to repent, to get back on the horse, to step up to the plate again, to muster up the courage to whisper his name, “Jesus,” and to remind him of what he already knows—that you are tired of living from the stuck identity of a sinner, which is death, and that you are ready to live from the unleashed identity of a lover, which is life. In the end there is neither sin nor love. There are only sinners and lovers. The glory of the Gospel is the way grace transforms a sinner into a lover and by the power of the love of God overwhelms sin by love and overcomes death by life.
It’s Ash Wednesday again. It’s time to repent and believe the Gospel, which isn’t so much trying harder to stop sinning and start loving as it is to stop seeing oneself as a sinner and start seeing oneself as a lover. This is what it means to say the old has gone and the new has come. One cannot repent without believing the Gospel for there would be nowhere to turn. And what is the Gospel? It is this: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
Salvation starts when a sinner is willing to be loved anyway. Holiness begins when a sinner becomes willing to love anyway.
It’s Ash Wednesday again.
From dust you have come and to dust you will return. Repent and believe the Gospel.”
P.S. Tell all your friends to tell all their friends that we get started with the Gospel of Matthew tomorrow. ;0)
1. What if repentance ceased to be so much about behavior management and became more about turning away from a way of life steeped in lies and turning to a way of life immersed in love?
2. What does ceasing to see yourself as a sinner and beginning to see yourself as a lover mean to you?
3. Are you willing to be loved anyway (i.e. despite your sin)? Are you ready to become the kind of person who loves anyway (despite their sin)?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.