Pardon the Application

Isaiah 55:6-7 brings home a message that many people have trouble with.  Not just unsaved people, but professing Christians, born again believers, and devout church goers.  “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

You say, “How could someone have trouble with that verse?  The wicked need to come to God.  That’s the cornerstone of our faith!”

Sure, Christians have no problem applying that sentiment to the world.  Those we know are lost, while not in what society would call wickedness, are nevertheless counted as sinners before God, and need forgiveness and salvation lest the spend eternity in hell.  They need our Saviour to cleanse them of all unrighteousness.  They need the mercy of the LORD.

Christians tend to have a problem applying the same verse to themselves.

“But preacher, we’re not wicked?”  “God has already pardoned us; we don’t need mercy anymore.”

My Bible says in Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

In Romans 8, Paul lays out the struggles we have being born again.  We have the Spirit in us, we are new creatures in the sight of God, and yes, when He looks at us He sees the blood applied.  But this same Spirit we have in us, this new creature, is constantly in battle with our flesh.  This rotten old body, dead in trespasses and sins, can give us more trouble than we can handle.  Like the story of the lost son, there is in every Christian the possibility of looking at the world and taking what God has to offer us and leaving.  The Father waits for us, and when we come home, He welcomes us with open arms.

We need only seek Him while He may be found.  Seek his mercy, turn from our wickedness, and accept that He’s been waiting for us to come back to his welcoming arms.  It is a sad commentary on Christianity that oftentimes we act like the lost son’s older brother.  “God, why do you let that guy come back after what he’s done?”  “God, I’ve never left you.  Why such a celebration when that wicked one comes back to church?”

“God will abundantly pardon.”  Our Bibles say the same thing, right?  Luke 7:47 says, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”  Hey, we all sin, and some of us sin more than others.  That Christian that has left the fold and comes back, well, he/she may not have a ministry anymore, they may not have the testimony they used to have, but God has abundantly pardoned them.

Just like He has abundantly pardoned you.  And me.  And all those that judge a person based on what we can see, instead of what is in the heart.

Maybe I’m just rambling now, but I’d like to think that Christians, those that have stayed faithful, those that haven’t left for the pleasures of this world, would have the spirituality to forgive as God forgives, and to bring those prodigals back into the fold with rejoicing, and with love and acceptance.  We don’t have to like what they’ve done.  We don’t even have to pretend we don’t know what they’ve done.  All we are required to do is love.  Love them like Jesus loves them.  God is the ultimate judge.

The Lord will lead His people back to the fold, and just as they need to forsake the wicked acts and unrighteous thoughts on their way back to the Lord, those that are faithful to His house, those that have never left the fold, should forsake the wickedness of being judgmental and the unrighteous thoughts of non-acceptance.  They’ve been away from God, and they need your love, not your condescension.  Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Love the brethren, brethren.  Jesus commands it.