Dear Fellow Children of God,
I was recently driving toward Palmer across the hay-flats on the Glenn Highway. It had been raining, which seems to have been our weather pattern for the last month and a half. However, on this day there was a break in the clouds and I noticed some white on the top of the mountains. I told my wife there was new snow showing. Her response was, “I don’t want to hear it. Don’t you mention that ‘S’s word!” Maybe you have heard, or have even had, the same reaction.
My wife may not have wanted to hear about the snow, but you know and I know that whether she wanted to hear it or not the snow was on the mountain. Yes, winter is coming. The colder temperatures, the icy roads, and the long hours of dark are on the way. Denial may be a coping mechanism, but not very effective.
Snow is not the only thing people deny. Among other things, we do not like to hear about our failures, our selfishness, or our sin. This is one reason some people stay away from a relationship with God. Sometimes God is perceived as the great fault-finder, who punishes those he catches. This is not an accurate portrayal of God, but can lead to people denying they may have issues in their lives to deal with.
Even Christians who might have a better understanding of our Lord can and do have trouble facing our sin. We like to focus on the good we have done, not our failure. Such self-righteousness creates barriers between ourselves and others, and between ourselves and God. When we deny our sin, we don’t deal with issues we may have with others. When we deny our sin we don’t think we need a Savior, and we may not even want one.
God has something to say to us about denial. In 1 John 1:8 we are told, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” If we deny winter is coming we are unprepared when it arrives. If we deny our sin we don’t deal with our problems and failures. If we deny our sin we also miss the sacrificial love of our Savior. We don’t think we need one.
That is why it is so important to see who God really is. He is not primarily the great punisher. God is the one who primarily reaches out with Jesus, offering forgiveness those who have fallen and sinned. In the verse after 1 John 1:8, we are told, “9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” If you think about it, God’s grace and forgiveness can make us willing to confess our failure, because we know God is there to forgive. When we don’t deny, but admit our struggles, it also helps us to deal with our troubles in this life using the help of God.
I don’t mind snow. There are other things I don’t like to talk about, like car repairs. But, I enjoy skiing, and snow-machining and ice fishing. So I can admit and even anticipate that winter is approaching. When we know that God loves us enough to have sent His son to pay for our sins, and when we know that when we admit our sins God reaches out with His love and forgiveness, it can help us to face our failures. We can admit our sin because we receive His forgiveness, and we can deal with our issues in the love of God.
A Child of God, Thankful that God’s forgiveness helps me to be honest about my failures,
P.S. I leave for 10 days of moose hunting on Sunday afternoon or Monday. I will send out my next “Thoughts from the Pastor” for the week of September 15-21 soon. After that, the next message you receive will be on September 27 or 28 after I have returned from hunting.
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.