What has always struck me when I first encountered God is that, in those life-changing interactions, my sins never came up. This was long before I knew Him as a Father. I found that He never deals in shame or condemnation. Now, He is a father, so He has corrected me many times, to help me mature as a son. But never with shame or by rubbing my sin in my face.
Then, after these encounters with God, I began to understand the theology behind what I was experiencing in real time. Apparently, God does not count our sins against us.
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor.5:19 NIV*)
This is remarkable when I think about how much Christians seem to obsess over sin….especially everybody else’s sin.
What I’ve found is that to encounter God is to encounter Love—pure, unadulterated, other-centered, self-giving love—for God IS love. If we simply replace the word “love” with God in the following familiar passage, we can see what God’s love looks like:
4 GOD is patient, GOD is kind. GOD does not envy, HE does not boast, GOD is not proud. 5 GOD does not dishonor others, HE is not self-seeking, HE is not easily angered, GOD keeps no record of wrongs.6 GOD does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 GOD always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor.13:4-7 NIV*)
The Passion Translations renders the first part of verse 5, “Love does not traffic in shame….”
So, it’s true. God does not traffic in shame.
This is the true character of God, not the religious nonsense we make up about Him. God looks like Jesus, and Jesus looks like love.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the following New Covenant promise that Jesus fulfilled on the Cross:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.” (Heb.10:17 NIV)
Beloved, if God is remembering our sins no more, why are we?
Still, to this day, I have trouble convincing people—especially believers—that when we personally encounter God, our sins will not be the subject of our conversation. If it is, we are probably projecting our own guilt and shame on God.
This may be the biggest reason why people, including believers, hide from Him.
We tend to prefer hiding behind religious activity instead letting God love us, which is quite sad when you think about it.
Beloved, our sin is not the problem; it’s that we put more faith in the power of our sin than in the power of the Cross.
I bring all this up because our inability to accept this reality ourselves may be one big reason why we’re not very effective at convincing others to accept it.
We don’t seem to understand the mission.
On that subject, just this week I was reading about our mission in 2 Corinthians from the Passion Translation:
18And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 19In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. (2 Cor.5:18-19 TPT*)
What first struck me here was the Aramaic rendering of the Greek “reconciliation” as “shepherding.” God was shepherding the world through Christ on the cross.
A shepherd is one who herds sheep. And he doesn’t turn his back on his sheep, or ever abandon them; he protects them, even laying his life down for them.
And, likewise, our heavenly Father is a good shepherd. He doesn’t do abandonment either. He didn’t turn His back on His Son on the cross. He was shepherding US through His Son.
This is why the Cross was not about an angry God having to kill His Son so He could forgive us. That’s absurd when you think it through.
No, the Cross was a rescue mission. It was the loving act of a Shepherd.
Think about it. Jesus was the Good Shepherd because His Father was a Good Shepherd.
Then Paul goes on to say….
20We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” (2 Cor 5:20 TPT*)
Looking at the last line first, you could say that God is pleading with us all to “be shepherded by Him.”
But also notice that He’s now pleading through us, which describes OUR mission. Which, save dying on the Cross, is the same mission as Jesus’ mission.
In light of all these things, my question is this: what kind of God are we projecting to those who don’t know Him? Are we like good Pharisees, rubbing people’s sin in their faces? Or, are we offering our lips to be used by Him to “shepherd” them, so that they can finally know Him as He truly is?
It’s not that sin isn’t important. It’s just that God seems to think He nailed it to the cross and buried it with Jesus’ death 2,000 years ago. And He also seems to have forgotten about our sins ever since.
What God IS remembering is that His Son removed EVERYTHING that would hinder us from knowing Him, so that we could know and experience Love.
And Love wants to use our lips, if we’re willing, to proclaim this crazy good news that brings great joy, to everyone we know.
That’s our mission….if WE decide to accept it. And if we accept it, they may too.