Sunday, July 3, 2011

Spilled Milk/ Freely Justified

Our small world was not secure, disturbed by unhappiness at home, and finally divorce. My older sister and I had our maternal grandmother, our Granny, who for a few years was saddled with the daily care of us (and didn't really seem to mind). One day, waiting at her house for our mother to pick us up after her workday, a fiendish plot developed in my mind. As the time grew near for her to arrive, I asked Granny for a cup of milk. She poured one for me. I held it til my mother arrived. Then with impeccable timing, the moment she walked into the house and into the kitchen where I stood waiting, I turned the cup upside down and deliberately dumped that cold, white milk all over my Granny's clean kitchen floor.

I remembered that maneuver recently as I am trying to think, more deeply, maybe, than before, what it means that I've been justified before God by one act of righteousness, that act of the one Man, Jesus Christ: namely, his death on the Cross for sinners. Grace reigned through that righteous accomplishment, a grace that leads to eternal life. When he acted for me in this way, I didn't know him... I didn't even care about him. Yet he died for me and through that sacrifice, has reconciled me to God. No goodness of mine could have accomplished this right standing with God, for all my goodness was no better than filthy rags in his sight. He has attached no strings to this gift of complete and utter reconciliation with himself. I don't have to perform, I cannot perform... he did all the performing, all the accomplishing. I've been justified, made right with God, by his sheer grace, alone. And that same grace has removed every shred of condemnation for every misdeed, now and forever.

Maybe a child's act of dumping milk on the floor before a poor mom's tired, astonished face illustrates the need for such grace. Maybe I was being bad to see if someone else's good could overcome the wickedness I was hatching in my heart. (Maybe I was just being bad!) In any case, moms and Grannies are only human, and imperfect. But perfect God came in the flesh, that one Man, and did what no one else could do.

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life" (Romans 5:6-10).

I need to understand this grace much better, for there is still the immature girl in me, lacking a grasp on the hugeness, the implications of God's one-sided, unilateral act through his Son of rescuing and justifying me, a real sinner; reconciling me, truly and forever, to his good and holy Self. I still want to dabble in guilt over spilled milk. But reading slowly and thoughtfully through Romans 4-8 (with help and encouragement from the good Doctor) is making me think better of it.

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