Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Injustice

I've started working through Kelly Minter's study, What Love Is: The Letters of 1, 2, 3 John (Living Room) So far, I really like what I'm studying. But today, a commonly quoted verse brought me to tears as the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and opened my Kingdom eyes.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9, NASB)

You don't have to be a Christian very long before you hear this verse. In fact, if you had someone walk you through any step-by-step proselytizing format (like those used by Campus Crusade, Youth For Christ, YWAM, etc.) you probably recognize it as one of the scriptures used to illustrate that in order to receive salvation, one thing you need to do is "confess your sins".

You'll also notice that I put the letters NASB after the reference. That's because I use the New American Standard Bible. If you've known this verse, you probably stumbled over the word "righteous", just like I did. That's because most of us memorized, or have heard quoted a gazillion times, the word "just" there, as used in the NIV (New International Version).

This morning, when I saw the "righteous", but my brain slid in the word "just", something transforming happened for me. Holy Spirit nudged, "Now if just and righteous are interchangeable...do it again." What did He mean? Look at the last word of the verse and this is what I read:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all un-just-ness.

Now...you and I both know that "unjustness" isn't a word...but injustice is.

Injustice.

The kind of thing that keeps people enslaved to give me coffee or sugar.
The kind that allows me to spend $2 for an iced tea when a single mom in Asia only has that amount to feed her five children for an entire day.
The kind of thing that keeps one race feeling "less than" my race.
The kind that turns Christians ugly and mean when other people don't live up to their code of conduct.
The kind of evil that opens up gunfire in a church.
The kind that drives millions from their homes while we look on from afar.
The kind that allows people to live on top of a garbage dump.

I can actually go on. But I won't. You get the point, I hope.

We are surrounded by injustice. And often I am extremely self-righteous about it. [Notice the "self" part of that.]

When I back up in I John 1:9, I'm reminded that only God is righteous. Only God is just.

Ever since I was a small child, I've had this profound sense of "fairness". As a middle child, I have always wanted everything to be fair and equal. It isn't. And when it's not, I get downright angry. But there's one more big word in this verse. It's a word God's Spirit has been growing in me for a few years now. It's a word that I've shared the meaning of with anyone who will listen.

Faithful.

What does faithful mean? This isn't a technical definition, but as I studied this word a few years ago, I became aware that it essentially can be explained as this: God's faithfulness is God's really-real-reality.

You see, it doesn't matter what I say is real. It doesn't matter what our culture, government, family, school, neighbor, boss, friend, co-worker, coach or the rest of the world says is real. Everything goes back to God's reality.

His.

Not mine.

And His really-real-reality is that He is just...He is righteous...and when I admit honestly that every inclination in my heart is evil (Genesis 8:21)...only then can He begin to cleanse me of the injustice that lurks in my heart.

My heart.

No one else's.

I don't confess my sins so that someone else will be cured of their alcoholism, or convicted of their adultery. I don't admit my shortcomings so that the world will sanctify my point of view.

No.

I throw myself on the mercy seat of Jesus' blood, because a just and real God wants to purge me of my injustice. He's ready to cast out my judgmental ways, my critical spirit, my arrogant pride and anything else in this mortal, flawed shell that feels somehow I deserve better treatment than a leper in Calcutta, a slave in Indonesia or a pedophile in Wyoming (yes...I went there. I am no better than even him!)

So, I hope you'll forgive me if I haven't "taken a stand" or "voiced my outrage" or "shared my concern"...I'm too busy pleading with my Maker to clean me up and create in me a pure heart.

Like His.