Friday, March 10, 2017

Who is a God like you?

This is the opening line of the text for today from Micah 7: 18-20

Who is a God like you,
pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.
He will again have compassion upon us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and unswerving loyalty to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

It is a picture of grace and mercy.  I particularly like the line - you "cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."  I remember years ago hearing that description of God who throws all our sins into a lake and then posts a sign: 

I have been listening to a book by Pema Chodren in which she says that the biggest block to happiness is self denigration. I wonder if so much of that is our inability to live with our basic flawed humanity and our unwillingness to believe and accept the grace of God.  

When I write about grace I mean costly grace, not cheap grace. Dietich  Bonhoeffer writes

"cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism  without church discipline. communion without confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."
Cheap grace is to hear the gospel preached as follows: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness."

Costly grace is after we have experienced a "broken spirit and a contrite heart."  Costly grace is what truly sets us free from crippling guilt as well as continuing with conduct that leads to separation from God, others and out selves.  Costly grace is how we are changed and made new.

"Who is a God like you? "Asks Micah and the answer is God is the one who shows us the way to happiness and the abundant life.  That is not a question we ask all the time - often it is more likely to be: "Who am I?"  And the one answer that is foundational is this:  "I am the one God loves."  
This God of grace and mercy.  May we  continue to ask questions and allow God to reveal to us the answers.   


Here is one of my favorite prayer/poems by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who Am I? by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

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