Remove our Offenses!

Remove our Offenses!

The debate is raging over what to do with statues and memorials that honor Confederate generals and soldiers. Here is Madison the mayor ordered the removal of a plaque that honored Confederate soldiers whose bodies were buried in a local cemetery. What are we to make of all of this?

I understand the sentiment and I wish it were really that easy. If only the sins of the past could be swept away by loosening some bolts and carting away a hunk of metal or stone. Sure, it may help to calm the uproar of the moment but I wonder how far it will go to erase the hurt that goes much deeper. Is it that easy to remove an offense?

How has this approach worked in your own life? Have your attempts to remove the memories of your past sins really brought the healing you were hoping for? You can avoid the places of past offenses or delete web searches. You can edit Facebook posts or rewrite your own history to try and cover past sins. Does it work? Can any effort you make really remove the offenses of the past?

Jesus called these cover-ups futile. He likened them to painting the outside of a tomb with fresh coat of white paint. A tomb houses a rotting corpse no matter how nice the outside looks. Each of our personal histories houses guilt and shame no matter how much we may wish it all away.

Notice that Christianity does not worship a God who rewrites our history. We worship a God who entered it. The guilt of our past has been toppled by Jesus. The grip of sin has been loosened from us. It no longer holds claim over us because Jesus claimed it as his own on his cross. He has removed our offenses not just for the moment but for eternity.

      The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

      He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbor his anger forever;

      he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.

      For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;

      as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8-12)