Gathering the Evidence

Anne Lamont, in her book, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, relates the story of her interactions with a woman she designated as her enemy.

A woman she designated as her enemy.

Then Anne began to gather the evidence. She had “mean eyes.” She followed the rules of first grade, asking Anne if she needed help understanding the rules after she failed to pick up her son on short early out days. Her enemy had time to make treats for the class, and Anne did not have time or the desire or the skill. Her enemy’s son was a proficient reader while Anne’s son was a late reader. She offered to help Anne’s son. She goes on to list the many ways that her enemy inadvertently tripped into the trap of deserving her scorn.

Her enemy asked for a copy of Anne’s baby book, which included anti-Bush sentiments. After reading it, she said to Anne, “maybe it’s a good thing he doesn’t read.” Okay that is real evidence. Then she called her friends and family and trashed her enemy. I’ve done that, too – trash my enemies, that is.

But Anne went before God, struggling in prayer to forgive her enemy. It drove her to her knees. Help, she said. In the end, God opened her eyes and gave her the grace to forgive.

When we gather evidence against our enemies, we are playing the role of the great accuser, Satan. We bring up our list of grievances against them to our family and friends. When we chew the cud of their offenses in our minds, we are the accuser.

Satan is described as the accuser of the brethren. He goes before God accusing us of our wrongs, our failings, our unworthiness. He is the one who brings the case against us. He gathers the evidence against and presents it to God.

And justice requires the ultimate penalty.

But Jesus is our high priest who ever intercedes for us. He knows about our sin, our failings, our unworthiness. He knows that our case is hopeless. But he has paid the penalty in his own body on the cross. He intercedes for us before the Father and points to the cross and says, “I rest my case.”

33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:33, The Bible)
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Love for Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 5:27-36

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Endless Loss

The lyrics of the song, “Blessed Redeemer” often appear in Christian hymnbooks. I love this arrangement of the song as sung by the Christian band, Casting Crowns, because it brings focus to the meaning of the words.

Lately I have been thinking about how this song presents the motivation of our Lord: “That He might save them from endless loss.”

Endless. Loss.

Our friends and family who don’t know the Lord are facing a Christless eternity. May we pray for them more fervently. May we proclaim the good news boldly. May the Lord give us compassionate eyes to see the true condition of those who wander without a shepherd.

The cross demonstrates God’s mercy.

Blessed Redeemer

Up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn
Facing for sinners, death on the cross
That He might save them from endless loss

Chorus:

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

“Father, forgive them,” my Savior prayed
Even while His lifeblood flowed fast away
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so

Oh, how I love Him, Savior and Friend
How can my praises ever find end?
Through years unnumbered on Heaven’s shore
My songs shall praise Him forevermore