Sometimes I read stuff in the Bible and cringe. I love most parts of being a Christian, but some parts I really don't. Like. REALLY JUST DON'T. I can usually get behind the idea of a God who is just, until the thought crosses my mind that He brings justice upon me or someone I love. What I really want is comfortable justice. Raw, real justice can sometimes scare the bejeezies out of me.
The verses in Malachi read a lot like a Clint Eastwood western: asking people to "make God's day", so to speak. Words like "burning like an oven" and "set them ablaze" aren't exactly comforting. Sometimes the Old Testament reads like a storyline out of "Saw". Actually, sometimes "Saw" seems like a cake walk compared to some of the stuff you read in the Bible.
The human race is a fearful bunch. It's hard not to be. The negativity of this world can be overwhelming. People are poor. People are hungry. People declare war on one another. People get sick. People die. People commit atrocious crimes. People lie. People cheat. People let us down. People lose jobs. People fight. People are insensitive. No wonder it's hard to maintain a rose colored outlook, and no wonder it's so dang difficult to not be overcome by fear.
However, most fear is rooted in the belief that God's love has boundaries. It doesn't!
As I reread Malachi, however, I realize that it's all a matter of perspective. As a matter of fact, if you read Malachi again, you'll see that he paints a scene of healing and joy. That's what He gave us, a beautiful gift. A beautiful gift for people so undeserving: GRACE!
God's grace didn't stop at warm fuzzy feelings for you. He took action for you. He deeply felt our pain, and sent His son to bandage our wounds. We look at God's judgement for sin like He's waiting to punish us for it, when in reality, sin is it's own punishment. Sin is the root of our misery. Sin causes enough pain and turmoil all on its own. No one understands this better than God! It's not His intent to punish it as much as it is His mission to heal it.
We deserved pain, but what we got was joy.
We deserved justice, but we got mercy.
We deserved to be condemned and set ablaze, but we are instead leaping for freedom.
No one else came to take the brunt of the justice we deserved… Only Jesus.
Questions to consider:
- Can you think of a time that you were given completely undeserved grace from someone else? How did it feel?
- How about God? What does His grace feel like to you?