My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace
This week, we talked about confession in bible study. It's not an easy topic, so we started at the beginning. How do we confess? Why do we confess? Is confession beneficial? Confession sometimes removes guilt, and we recognized that we feel better when people have the courage to confess to us, even if we already knew we'd been wronged. The hardest part of confession and asking forgiveness is not the the utterance, not the courage, but the acceptance of forgiveness.
As children, and victims of abuse, some of my kids have never experienced forgiveness in the way I have. All week, I've been singing "Amazing Grace" to myself. I played the original song on the piano several times over the weekend, sang modern versions including "Grace Like Rain" and "My Chains Are Gone", and grace has overflowed in my mind as a general topic. I'm typically hard on myself and have trouble forgiving myself for mistakes, but I never doubt the forgiveness I receive from God. This is the opposite, I learned, from the kids I work with. God's grace and mercy are foreign concepts to them, and I can not convince them that God is bigger than any and all sins they can commit. Paul comes into play every week, but he's a "bible character", so apparently he's an exception.
God's unending love, mercy, and grace have been emphasized so heavily to me that I get it; I understand. Even when others don't forgive me, or I can't bear to forgive myself, God forgives and loves us wholeheartedly. While I shared this message with a small group of teenagers this evening, they looked perplexed. Their understanding was this: Sin=death and my personal list of sins=fire and brimstone. It's a simple equation, but there's one BIG problem. Jesus is missing.
I have fallen in love with a line spoken by Jeff Bethke in Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus: "Religion says do, Jesus says done". If I can accomplish one thing in my two years here, I hope I can help these kids understand that their equation is correct, but if Jesus is added to the equation, death and fire and brimstone are negated.
The opposite of death is life, but you don't have to delete all sin to delete death, you just have to add Jesus. I understand our urge for young people to follow the commandments and "do what Jesus would do"(it's ambitious and admirable), but I am sincerely scared for our youth when they are told to fear God so much that they run from Him.
"My chains are gone; I've been set free". This is such a powerful message, but for some it's unimaginable. I hope that we can experience amazing grace together, and be set free. This is my daily task. Next time you warn a young person of God's punishment, PLEASE also share the grace and love offered through Jesus Christ. Murphy Harpst's slogan is "Life and Hope for Children". Support the ministry by offering life and hope to the children you meet, a life and hope found in Jesus Christ.
God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8