Hope when sin hurts

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“Jesus’ table is not a potluck.” Andrea’s words continue to echo in my head, settling me deeper into grace.

It has been a month of staring sin in the face and having it shake me to the core. I have learned in a new way that I cannot fix sin—my own or anyone else’s. I cannot negotiate with it or tame it or talk it into reasonableness or submission. Often I can’t even know for sure where my own sin ends and the sin of another begins, nor where the line is between sin and God-created human limitation, need and personality.

And so I came yesterday, the first day of the week, the first day of the month, to Jesus’ table. I came yesterday, Easter in the Orthodox church, carrying in my mind and soul and body the questions and the weight of sin’s effects that I was eager to lay down. I came with Esther Hizsa‘s ponderings ringing in my head, listening again to her wrestle with the questions of daily relationship in a fallen world:

“How could I live with myself when the victim of my wrongdoing has to deal with the mess I created, in whole or in part? Conversely, how could I live with what has been done to me?

As I wrestled with this, I came across Hebrews 9:28 which reminded me that Christ is the only one able to bear sin. We are sinners, but Christ alone is the sin-bearer. For the first time, I understood that we were never created to bear sin—even our own. When we discover we have sinned, we are meant to give that sin, and its consequences, over to God.” (Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim, p. 150)

Jesus is the sin-bearer. When sin seems blatantly obvious to me and I need grace to forgive (myself or others), and when things are less clear, I find help here: Jesus knows it all and bears it all. With Paul, I can choose to trust the Judge who is both Truth and Love to weigh it all and bear it all—and end up able to praise us:

“I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” (1 Cor 4:3-5)

“Jesus’ table is not a potluck.” I don’t get to bring perfectly seasoned egg sandwiches or a fluted bowl of raspberry trifle, gentleness or wisdom—or even an ability to sort out exactly what is sin, or whose it is—to His table. I can come only with my nothingness and need, my empty hands open to receive startling grace.

As Andrea and Tim and Ellie stood there at Jesus’ table, did they feel what we could see? Spring sunshine flooded through the windows, illuminating every hair on their head, the grace and hope of Jesus’ resurrection painting them glorious.

One thought on “Hope when sin hurts

  1. I find that thought that Jesus’ table is not a potluck so helpful. There really is nothing we can bring. It reminded me of the line from the old hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ – “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to thy cross I cling…” Thankfully, Jesus “serves himself up”* as the Bread of Life for our hunger, the Living Water for our thirst, and (again from the hymn), as the double cure, saving from wrath and making us pure.
    * from your Mar 28th post, “What your heart needs for all the days after Easter.”

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