Gospel Love in Forgiveness
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. - Ephesians 1:7-8
I often get the sense that there is a growing reluctance to repent. I am not sure if that is a cultural thing or just a thing that is growing in people around me. People work hard to hide, deny, or shift the blame for any brokenness or dysfunction in their lives. I get it. Life is hard enough as is without having to face the shame or guilt from our deficiencies.
Naturally, this creates a bit of tension when it comes to faith. The line from the church for too long has been driven by a perspective of an angry God looking to punish. I’m not sure if that really is anyone’s perspective. But a lot of people assume it is part of the package.
Not long ago, I got the sense that more was going on with God than anger at sin. For one, I became convinced that repentance is a relational thing with God more than a transactional thing. What I mean by that is that it is not like wart removal where God is just trying to zap as many blemishes as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rather, he knows us. It is part of his desire to be known by us better.
That is when this verse started to reframe things for me. It begins as we would expect. There is a connection between repentance and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It is costly because it is important. It opens the way for forgiveness. But then there is this part about “the riches of his grace” and lavishing upon us. That doesn’t sound like God effectively and efficiently taking care of a problem. One does not lavish payment on a debt.
I began to wonder if God isn’t doing something else here… telling us something else. God is making a show of forgiveness. God is being lavish because our repentance is an opportunity for us to discover just how extravagant his love is for us. Perhaps it is our best opportunity to come to know the God who is not afraid to step into the darkest valleys to comfort and protect, to bring us to a place of wholeness in him.
So, maybe, just maybe, our reluctance to repent denies God the opportunity to do the thing he most desires to do. God wants to lavish upon us his love and grace. What better place to do it than where we are afraid we are least deserving.
Jesus, sometimes it is hard to believe the extent of your patience, your grace, and your love. I confess the ways I hide the worst of me from you for fear that you will not love me. Show me now the lavishness of your grace and love for me that I might believe not only for me but for the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.