Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Ignorance of Grace

I have a friend who has been really gracious to me, although she may not even realize that she did it.

About a year ago, I wrote her a random e-mail, telling her about this crazy idea I had to do something that I was totally unprepared and unqualified for -- what's more, it was something that someone else was already doing... so the position wasn't even available!

At the time, I thought I sounded like a dreamer -- a wonderful, crazy dreamer.

Looking back at the email, I think I sounded more like an ass.

Not in the sense of being "a jerk", but in the sense of being "stupid".

My friend never wrote back, either.

Perhaps she didn't know what to say.
Perhaps she thought the email was supposed to go to someone else.
Perhaps she just didn't have time to respond, got busy and forgot.

Either way, I'm glad I never heard back from her.

The lack of response was one of the things that helped me to realize that I'd been an idiot.

At first I was a little offended that she hadn't responded.
I'd poured part of my heart out, and didn't get any reply whatsoever.
As I've thought back on that situation, however, I've realized that was one of the most gracious things anyone's ever done for me.

And I've come to believe that one of the most gracious things we can do for one another is just that:

to ignore the ridiculous things each other says. 

To not make fun, when we sound dumb. 
To not shoot someone down when they've got a big, crazy dream.
To not argue when we're wrong.
To not judge the other person.
To treat them with dignity, despite being a doofus. 

Sometimes the most gracious thing we can do for one another is to ignore

Ignorance can be so gracious. 

In a sense, that's what God's grace is like, too, right?

Have you ever thought about that? 

There's an Audio Adrenaline song that goes:

Your sins are erased
And they are no more.
They're down on the ocean floor.
Your sins are forgotten.
They're on the bottom
Of the ocean floor.

It's always been one of my favorite Audio A songs, but it brings up a very interesting question:

Does God really forget your sins?

I mean, can God forget anything?

He's all-knowing, right? All-powerful? Is He capable of forgetfulness? If He's not, does that mean that there's something that God can't do? It's like my friend, Donovan, who likes to ask "Can God create a burrito so hot that even He can't eat it?" I'll answer Don's question in another post, but here, we're focused on this Holy Alzheimers issue. 

I do not believe that God can forget, in the sense that nothing can ever slip his mind. He's not going to ever ask himself "Did I leave the oven on?" He can't forget in that way. He's never going to say "John... John... Hmmm...do I know him?" (at least, I hope not)

However, I do believe that he is capable of erasing His own memory, as it were. 

Don't believe me? Think it sounds too far-fetched, or sci-fi-ish? 

Ok. Check it out. In Isaiah 43, the prophet speaks on behalf of God, saying "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my sake, and remembers your sins no more." 

Forgetting something is passive. It happens to you without your control. To remember no more, is active. It's something you choose to do. If my friend makes me angry, I can forgive him. I may even say, "it's forgotten." Is it, really, though? No. I can't do that. I can't make myself not remember something. It's like trying to make myself not eat a Fun-Yun, or not gain 3 pounds because I just ate a whole bag of Fun-Yuns... I just don't have the power. 

God, however, is all-powerful, omnipotent, almighty! He can make himself forget. He can "remember no more".

So, in that sense, yes. God can forget your sins. If you're a believer in Christ, He no longer sees you as the sinner you were before. You're now a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come. He sees you as righteous. He doesn't just choose to redefine you as righteous. He has made you righteous, clothing you in the righteousness of Christ. 

Do we still struggle with sin? Of course we do. We will never fully master that until we enter the next life. However, God doesn't reckon those sins against us. He no longer keeps track. He remembers no more. 

You're sins are forgotten. 

And that's the ignorance of grace. 

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