How far is too far?

Recently I was watching an episode of a television show in which two main characters are alone in a room after an explosion. These characters have been close allies and literal mortal enemies over and again over three and a half seasons. Both characters are major leaders, both are deeply flawed, and both have done terrible things in the pursuit of survival. In one scene, after the explosion, the male character is lying on a metal slab with blood pouring out of a huge gash in his abdomen. The woman is tending to the wound, and in the process gives him a shot of “morph” to cut the pain.

As she patches the wound, he begins rambling in his pain-and-drug-induced haze. He speaks of the god he has found, the love this god has filled him with, the heavy burdens of guilt that are now gone. Problem is, the woman has long suspected that he was instrumental in the destruction of their civilization by another race. She moves more slowly as she asks, with a forced measured-ness in her tone, what he was guilty of. And he tells her. He gave them the vital information it took to destroy everything they knew; he was the reason they’d been running and fighting and dying for five years. He tells her he’s free from guilt because of the love of his god. She removes his bandages and watches the blood leave his body in a stream, pooling on the cold metal floor beneath him.

Eventually, she recovers the wound and he lives. They both go on to fight another day. But I have been pondering this scene for a few days now. What does it mean that God forgives sin, that He removes it from us completely, that the blood of His Son makes me clean as snow? How many times can I commit the same sin before its stain runs deeper than that blood? How badly can you hurt me before, like in this story, God’s forgiveness of you offends me?

I believe in God’s full salvation from sin, that He restores what has been lost or stolen and that He makes all things new. I would be lost without this truth underlying the very foundation of my life. God redeems. He has redeemed me from the woundedness of my childhood, the brokenness of my youth, and the garbage of my young adulthood. But lately I’ve began wondering if I’ve cashed in all my redemption chips, if God’s continued forgiveness and restoration of my life might begin offending me. It just doesn’t seem fair that He should make me new again, again, or keep saving me from myself.

And there’s someone out there in the world that I don’t believe should be freed from his guilt. Someone whose restoration would so deeply offend me that I might hold it as a kind of insult to my value as a person. He might not have helped in the destruction of humanity, but he played a major role in breaking me in an already fragile and heart wrenching time of life.

If God redeems him, if the blood of Jesus runs deeply enough into his spirit to make him whole again, will I withhold my agreement to it? If I could choose, would I take off the bandage that leads to the healing of his wounds? Or would place my hands over the gash and participate in his being made new?

The question is bigger than one bad relationship. I’ve had conversations about general sins and how beautiful but hard it is for us to believe that God can forgive even the most heinous sinners. But when I am the one carrying the damage inside, when the sin was messy and relational and not easily named, what then? How do I become “big enough” to rejoice that God forgives the one who damaged me?

And what about those times when I am the one on the metal bed? When the gash in the gut is mine, and the person standing over me is bearing the scars of wounds that came from my hand, my tongue, my sin? What pleading words of mercy might be found on my lips if the person I neglected, or ignored, or lashed with my words is the one holding the bandage of grace that could save me?

Heavy thoughts for a Monday morning, but so it is. Grace, after all, is never a light topic. It is given freely, but carries the value of life in its granting.


1 Comment

  1. Charlie said,

    September 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    1. I’m calling it out… “BattleStar Galactica Nerd.”

    2. I don’t think that it’s Grace that is a heavy topic, but my resistance to grace – my sense of “I’m owed…” When applied to me, grace is light. It’s a gift. It’s beautiful & refreshing. It moves me to tears of joy. Grace only gets heavy when it’s someone else’s gift… and I’m chosen to be the delivery man.

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