Many years ago, when Beth and I were first married (we celebrate our 26th anniversary next month) we got into, shall we say, a debate about the color of our apartment walls. I argued that they were obviously white, while she smiled and contended that they were off–white. So to prove my point, I grabbed a piece of typing paper and confidently slapped it to the wall. Needless to say, the presence of the white paper instantly revealed that the walls were anything but white.
I heard a man preaching on the radio last week, and he was holding forth about sin and the need for salvation. He went on and on about us being sinners, and about breaking the law and falling short of the glory of God. I could not help but wonder how sinners could possibly have a clue about the glory of God, let alone what is meant by falling short of it. Then I remembered the white typing paper. Only as we see our salvation in Christ do we begin to know what it means that we are sinners. Only as we see ourselves wrapped up in the Father’s love in Christ can we begin to know what it means to fall short of His glory. Forgiveness reveals guilt. Salvation reveals how far we are from living in its joy. John Calvin was right when he said, ‘no man can apply himself seriously unto repentance until he knows that he belongs to God.’
We have the order wrong. You don’t preach law so that folks will know they are bad and then seek forgiveness; you preach forgiveness so they will know they are missing out on a fantastic life, and thus seek to know how to live it. For what could be better than to know that the Father himself has forgiven us and embraced us forever? Yet what could be more exposing than the whiteness of the Father’s love and acceptance as they reveal the darkness of how far we are from living in His embrace? To see yourself loved forever and safe in the Father’s arms reveals that we have a glorious life to live, and that we are like church mice living in fear in the dark (religious dark?). For the Father’s embrace shows us what real life is all about, and at the same it time shows us that we are a long way from living in its joy. The whiteness of the Father’s love reveals our lives as a sad and pitiful mess, and it summons us to turn from such sadness, receive the Father’s love and live. Receiving the Father’s love is life (John 17:3).
Holy Spirit, you have the run of our dark house. Reveal the Father’s love in Jesus. Expose our bondage for what it is that we may run to Abba for healing.