as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes

"Jesus, Light of the World"
* O Come Let Us Adore Him"

* Redeemer King
* Jesus, Light of the World (no idea real song name)

* Heaven's Light (no idea real song name)
* Luke 1:78-79
* Because of Your Tender Mercy"


how much more will your heavenly Father give

I posted a clip of Voddie Baucham more than a month ago. In it, he half-answers the question of why does God allow suffering to exist by reframing the question around God's sovereignty and turning the question to how is it possible a holy God lets me live. It is a factually correct perspective in the sense that all of us should be grateful for whatever we have, and God owes us nothing at all, and God can do whatever He wants. All of this is true. But two things occurred to me today that make me question the relation of this perspective to the Gospel.

One: I had to inform my employees that they were receiving bonuses, but the bonuses were drastically reduced from prior year amounts. The talking points given to me by HR to recite made it seem like the message I was supposed to send them was "It's a tough economy, you are lucky you have a job, and you are lucky to get any bonus whatsoever." While all of that is true, there is no grace in reminding them of their luck to then reframe their disappointment into some sort of joy.

Two: My daughter was hoping to get new earrings today. After getting her ears pierced several weeks ago, today was the day she was told she would be able to switch from the basic stud to different earrings. Because I was disappointed in one of her school grades, I chose not to get her new earrings even though I had told her we'd consider going afterschool to get some. My reasoning to her was that I was disappointed in her grades, and this was one of the punishments she was receiving. Again, factually true, and a teaching moment that actions have consequences, no doubt. But was there also not a teaching moment here on grace had I gotten her earrings? That she deserved nothing but punishment and instead received a gift of love?

A holy God owes mankind nothing. True. Sinful man deserves nothing but condemnation. True. After the very gift of life and breath, everything after that is a bonus. True. We should repeat these facts again and again because it gives us the proper perspective on God. False.

The good news of God is that despite what we have earned, He loves us and by His loving grace, He offers us abundant life. That is the repeatable message. That He is a loving Father, one who is not prone to reminding us at every turn that everything is His and He can do whatever He wants. That He is a loving Father, one who is not prone to lording His sovereignty and supremacy over us again and again. That He is a loving Father and despite the fact that we disappoint Him every single day with the grossness of our sin, He blesses us beyond measure. That is the Gospel: love and grace and mercy over condemnation. Sorry, Voddie. That's how I choose to remind myself of who my Heavenly Father is, and who my Savior is -- He loves me, not I'm not dead, woo hoo.

so choose life in order that

If you asked me a decade ago if I was in favor of the death penalty, not only would I have said "Absolutely", but I would have volunteered to be the one who pulled the switch. A few years ago my stance softened as I considered Gen18 and read up on Catholic teachings on the sanctity of human life. Evangelical Republicans preach the evils of abortion while ignoring their staunch advocacy of capital punishment, something I was having second thoughts about. This week, a senseless tragedy occurred, and facebook statuses of a large number of my Christian friends railed for the killer to be caught, and when he was himself killed, a surprisingly large number of Christian friends reveled in his death.

Let me be clear on this point: bloodlust masqueraded as justice is terribly wrong.

Second thoughts no longer exist on this issue, as I am convinced there is no reconciling being against abortion with supporting capital punishment. Life is life -- whether it is the life of an innocent one, or the life of the most wicked of us all. Christ came to redeem the lives of both these types. A Christian cannot, cannot root for death to win. That is like rooting for the Empire, or rooting for the Axis. John10 makes the very clear distinction between what Christ brings (LIFE) and what the devil is all about (DEATH). Even when seeking justice, one cannot side with death. Death is the enemy; death is the consequence of sin; death entered the world via liar's lies; death is the opposite of the good news of God.

My heart breaks at injustice, and every inch of me seeks for God to strike down evil. In fact, I pray for His smiting on my enemies. But in the end, my sense of justice is often very different from God's sense of justice. And my sense of proper consequences is very different from God's sense of proper consequences. So rather than think about justice and consequences (of which I am clearly often wrong), far better for me to think about something I do know about -- the good news of God: that Christ came to vanquish death and bring life.

Deut30 presents us the choice to choose between life and death. Not life sometimes and death sometimes, but to choose one over the other. I choose life, the side represented by Christ. And you?