Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Without Flaw





My husband Arvo spent the past three days stripping and re-staining our dining room table. It was a pretty massive undertaking, and involved a lot of noxious fumes, and sweltering heat since much of it had to be done outside during the first real heat wave of the summer.

I thought it was looking pretty good, and near completion, when I asked him yesterday morning if it was all done now.
"Well, no, there is an unfortunate set-back. Come see."
He led me to the enormous table, now newly refinished and said, "See?"
"It looks beautiful," I said.
"But look here," he said, pointing to one small 2 inch section that was unstained. It was barely noticeable, especially given the large expanse of perfectly stained surface.
"Do you think that matters?" I asked.
"Well, every time I look at the table, it is all I see," he said.

I think this is quite a perfect illustration of what we are before a holy, righteous God. We can be very close to perfect, but there will always be the disfiguring mark of sin, the flaw that keeps us from total communion with God. I have often heard that God "cannot look upon sin." However, that never made sense to me. It is clear God does look upon sin, all the time, in the Bible. However, He does not look on sin *with favor*, as a careful translation of Habakkuk 1:13 reveals. So maybe it isn't so much that God separates Himself from us and our sin, but that our sin separates US from God. When we sin, and are unrepentant, it is we who have lost the ability to commune with a Holy God. We know He is displeased, but it is not that He has ever lost His love for us. We are unable to accept His love in our fallen state.

Perhaps it is a little like the teen who is flaunting his parents' rules, and rather than owning up to his sin, he instead lashes out at them in anger, distancing himself from them. Were he to admit how much he has failed them, it is too horrible for him to contemplate, in the face of their love. Instead, he runs from them, away from the comfort and forgiveness they could have offered.

Sin blinds us to the power of God's love. Maybe we cannot live in the presence of pure holiness with our sin always before us, like that unfinished stain on Arvo's table. It becomes magnified, and all we see. And in the presence of God's perfect holiness, it becomes unbearable.

In the end, Arvo could not stand it. He stripped the area with the unfinished section, and painstakingly worked to make it as perfect as the rest. I would have been ok with him leaving it, but I was appreciative of the desire to have it be his best, a pure and perfect offering with all presence of flaws covered over.

Habakkuk 1:13
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.

But Christ offered himself to God without any flaw. He did this through the power of the eternal Holy Spirit. So how much more will his blood wash from our minds our feelings of guilt for committing sin! Sin always leads to death. But now we can serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14 NIRV)

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