Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forgive Us Our Debts

If you tuned in to this little blog post for commentary on the great debt debacle in Washington, I'm sorry to disappoint you. This is not a political blog. Never has been. Never will be. God's rule in  left-handed kingdom matters is important (something that people of any vocation and on any side of the aisle can agree upon). However, the Gospel is not served by my political rants on a blog devoted to the declaration of the Great Eucatasrophe. If you want to know my political thoughts, let's go out for a beer and discuss it as the pleasing aroma of hops fills our nostrils and quenches our thirst. It's true; today's political milieu is a great canvas for discussing the two-kingdoms. But for this evening, I will abide by common etiquette and only discuss one impolite subject at a time.

Watching the news and reading the paper (yes, I still read the paper; I simply prefer the printed page which is ironic for a blogger), I couldn't help but notice the language surrounding all the hullabaloo in the Capital. Debt ceiling. Compromise. Deal. Default. Trust. Pledge. Again, not to dismiss the importance of these issues in the civil realm, but these are words that are bigger than Washington and our national debt.

These words have a redeeming quality about them when it comes to the Scriptures. Thank God He does not operate the Church or salvation (the kingdom of the right) the way we have to do gritty, messy business in the kingdom of the left. What if the Father imposed a debt ceiling on us? I wouldn't last a day, let alone a life time or an eternity. Compromise? What's there to compromise about with sin, death and the devil? Can you really make a deal with the devil? All country songs and movies aside, that didn't go so well for our first parents. If our heavenly Father dealt with us according to our sins we're not just talking default, broken trust and failed pledges; we're talking temporal and eternal death, damnation, condemnation. And it just gets darker from there. Just ask the unrighteous servant in Luke 7:

41"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?"43Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." 48And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among[h] themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" 50And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Good question. Who is this who forgives sins? It's not the U.S. government - or any government for that matter. And thank God for that. Thank God Christ's salvation won for us on the cross is not like anything else in the left-hand kingdom; He is a kingdom all unto Himself: the kingdom of God in human flesh. He comes to save. He comes with more forgiveness than we have sin. He does not impose a debt ceiling on us. Rather he takes our debts upon Himself, suffers all and dies for you. Instead of compromising with the devil he defeats him, first in the wilderness and then on the cross, parading His Crucified and victorious flesh in hell just to prove the point: "I win; you are dead; my sheep know me and they hear my voice. I am rose from the dead and so will they. Their debt is paid in my blood and you no longer hold a lien on them; they are mine, more precious than silver." 

There's no deal to be made; Christ has already made the exchange on our behalf: a sacred swap, a blessed exchange. He dies your death and you live in His life. He takes your sin and He gives you His righteousness. Where your trust in Him failed; He trusted in the Father for you. Where our pledge of faithfulness waned; He was faithful in life and death for you.  Where Adam and Eve made a deal with the devil and lost; in Christ you dance in victory on the devil's grave. No compromise, just plain old victory - now and forever. It is finished. In Christ - in Baptism, in the Supper, in the Absolution - Sin and death's power over you have been cut and capped and compromised forever. Debt paid. Ransom secure. Redemption won. Promise fulfilled. Life eternal has been won for you and for the world. And it only gets better and better from there.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him He disarmed the rulers and authorities... - Colossians 2.

So, whether there's a deal tonight or at the 11th hour on August 2nd, whether our politicians betray our trust or serve the people, God is working through them as his mask, as ugly as it seems. And more importantly - even more certain than death and taxes - His steadfast love never ceases. Christ's promises never fail or default. All our debt, Thou hast paid. Peace with God once more is made. O Lord, have mercy.

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