Psalm 130:3-5 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
These days there is a lot of talk about justice – the problem is that we aren’t really talking about justice – we all know that justice in blind – it treats all the same. So while we talk about justice, what we mean is that I get what I want, and the other person gets punished. And part of that could be happening – the other person could be receiving punishment. But part of what we want is to see the other person being punished. If God is going to strike sinners with lightning bolts we want to see the lightning strike. As I said, this really has little to do with justice, and has everything to do with revenge. Here is the problem – if justice is blind, it should treat everyone the same – which means that we should be treated just like everyone else. Now there is one man present who is without sin – Jesus! All the rest of us are sinners, and if God were to strike all the sinners with lightning bolts – well, when we said we wanted to see it – I don’t think we meant that we wanted to see it happen to us.
That is what our Psalm reminds us of "If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?" As much as we would like to ask for justice, what we really need is not justice, but mercy. And while it is certainly right and proper to worship God because He is just – it is certainly a lot easier to be thankful and to praise God for his mercy – because it is in his mercy that God forgives our sins in Christ. That is why our response is worship, to use the language of the catechism, that is why we fear and love God. Problem is that we don’t often talk about the fear of God, and the usual meaning of fear has to do with being afraid. There are certainly times when we ought be afraid of God – every time we sin, we should fear the wrath of God and fear the punishment we deserve. But there is much more to it – part of the fear of God is respect, or honor.
For example we all know that there are certain things that you just don’t do in church – it is God’s house! And caring for God’s house is something that is important to us, if it needs a new roof, we’ll see it gets done. This is commendable. However, if you think about it – it says even more. For example, if you can look at something and know that you shouldn’t do it in church – why, would you think that it would be OK to do it, just so long as it is not in church – Aren’t our bodies temples of the Holy Ghost? Doesn’t that mean that God is with us always? And unless we are inclined to out of body experiences, aren’t we therefore always in Church, always in the presence of God?
Think about it – when do temptations most often come? (or distractions?) Don’t they come when we are trying to read the Bible, or say our prayers, or in the midst of the worship service. Why do they come, because the devil certainly doesn’t want us knowing that we are in the presence of God. Actually it is even worse, the devil would want us afraid of being in the presence of God.
Why afraid? Because of our sins, because we know what we deserve, because he wants us to believe that they are so big, that God could never forgiven them. Or, that they are so small, that they really don’t matter (everyone else is doing it too…). You see, if we saw our sins, and repent of our sins, and receive God’s gift of forgiveness – the devil then would have no hold on us – and that is exactly what Jesus accomplished by the cross.
You see, faith is about waiting – there is a time when we will have, but it is not yet – the promise is now, but the time is not yet – its rather like engagement, which is the promise of marriage, but the rest is still to come – something that we wait for in eager anticipation.
So, the question is – can we wait with Christ? It is a question the disciples faced on that last night, Jesus asked them to wait with him while he prayed – wait with him, until the time when he would be betrayed – handed over to suffering and death. Jesus knew that they would have great difficulty. Jesus knew that they would fall away. Jesus knew that in the end, he would be abandoned by all. But that didn’t stop him from going ahead and doing everything necessary for our salvation.
Why is this important? Because that is the measure of God’s love for us – this is the depth of the mercy of God – and it is this love, with which God has loved us which moves us to worship God. We may not do it perfectly, we may at times be distracted – but the mercy of God and the forgiveness of sins do not come by our work, nor by our merit – but as God works through the Word.