The Bad News . . . the Good News

“Mom,” my four year-old daughter asked me the other day, “Why don’t any of the people in the Bible obey God?”

In my answer, I patiently brought up examples of men and women who obeyed God in Scripture: Joseph forgave his brothers, Queen Esther saved her people, and so on.

But my daughter wouldn’t have it. She shot down my examples with counter-examples of disobedience. She said, “Even those people you said still disobeyed God.”

Her simple observation led to a rather profound theological discussion to have with a preschooler: we are all sinners—and that sinfulness is a profound theme running through Scripture. It’s a truth that has become blatantly obvious to my 4 year-old simply from learning Sunday school stories and listening to Genesis on a CD.

And this “bad news” part of the Good News is central to this discipline of life-change.

Lest I make this month’s discipline sound morose, discouraging, and one to be avoided at all costs, we must recognize a core truth: recognition of our sin, confession, and repentance (turning away from those sins) leads to freedom.

One of my favorite theological writers, Frederica Matthewes-Green, says this: “[R]epentance, is joy. Initially we fear looking squarely at our sins, lest we get overwhelmed. But the reverse turns out to be true. The more we see the depth of our sin, the more we realize the height of God’s love. The constant companion of repentance is gratitude; seeing our sin becomes, paradoxically, an opportunity for joy.”

My daughter’s observation about the Bible is true of my life too—mine is a story that includes disobedience, selfishness, sin. Yours does too.

As we look honestly at our lives—with God’s loving presence and gentle grace—we can find this paradoxical joy and freedom that comes from facing the reality of our brokenness.

This week—Holy Week—may be the very best time of the year for a period of personal self-examination. This week we remember Christ’s determined march to the Cross, the pinnacle of the Bible’s swell of human brokenness. It is the week we face our own sins that he carried with him on that road to Calvary. Yours. Mine.

Let it be a week in which we courageously look at those sins, confess them, and receive God’s beautiful gift of not only forgiveness but of transformation through the power of his Holy Spirit.


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