Thursday, October 17, 2013


I traffic in trifling offenses, all the while playing games with God’s mercy, when I forget that the problem is not so much these sins of commission or omission, but the fact of my human existence being another instance of sin itself. I don’t need anyone to tell me that, and the proof is plain. I see it all around me in others. Why should it not be true of myself? The wages of sin is death, and despite the saving grace of God who came in my sinful flesh though He was the only Sinless One, I must die. What irony! That the only Man who should not have died because He alone is sinless, was put to death! Had we not killed Him, He would have lived forever in His sinless flesh. Which of these is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Raise yourself up from death on the third day’? To prove that His mercy is towards us, His Father through the Holy Spirit’s life-creating power, commanded Him, ‘Take up your body, and live again!’ And that is what He did, and so Christ, having been voluntarily put to death, was raised to life, and is alive forever, as He declared to John on the island of Patmos (cf. Revelation 1:18), granting the world great mercy.

But as for me, I am the sinner. No one has to teach me what the grace and mercy of God is, or what it feels like to be the dwelling-place of Christ in the Holy Spirit. Christ living in me is so unlike the old man that His presence can sometimes feel like a fire that sears flesh and separates bone from bone, grating against hardened attitudes and wrong desires with soul-shattering intensity. No need to pretend that there is anything good in me of my own. Everything is grace, everything mercy and love poured out like cooling water over the furnace of my flesh, which in sins my mother conceived me, causing that cast-iron prison to break asunder, cracked open by the meeting of earthly and unearthly in me. There is no priest waiting for me to confess, waiting to ask me, ‘What’s on your list today?’
I know better than to play games with God’s mercy in the presence of His anointed, whose eyes and ears become those of my Master. I only cry to Him, ‘Lord, have mercy! All that I long for is known to You, my sighing is no secret from You. Take my life, and make it Yours. O Lord, for You alone are Holy.’

How strange it is, how unexpected, that salvation should work in this way: That what is to live forever, by grace, is incubated in something like a rotten timber, destined for the flames; that as it grows and takes the shape of its Maker’s will, it still must bear the humiliation of its origin in decay, until at last it is freed. But is it really strange, really unexpected? Yes, but only to our mortality, which cannot think beyond itself to see what mercy waits for those who sleep. Thinking it is awake, it only dreams, and left to itself, it never escapes its dreams. But blessed are those who sleep in the Lord, for they shall awake, and upon waking, they shall gaze their fill on His likeness.

Είη το όνομα Κυρίου ευλογημένον 
από του νυν και έως του αιώνος.
Blessed be the name of the Lord 
from this time forth and for ever more.

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