Please read the scripture from the weekend: Matthew 18:1-6, 10-20
Sometimes the Bible can seem harsh. That’s especially true for the Old Testament, but even in the New Testament, certain passages often come across as strict or demanding. In the verses above, for instance, we’ve got Jesus giving instructions for rebuking someone who sins against you, saying that it’s better to drown than to be a stumbling block for a child, and telling the disciples to amputate their own limbs rather than let those limbs lead them to sin (hopefully that last one is metaphorical). These verses are scary and intimidating. They make us feel like the consequences of messing up are irreversible and irredeemable. They certainly don’t feel like good news.
While passages like these do show that God takes sin seriously, they’re only truly scary when removed from context. Because among them are even more messages of forgiveness and reconciliation. For all the talk of drowning oneself and chopping off limbs, Jesus makes it clear that He’ll always seek us out and bring us back into the fold with great rejoicing, no matter how far we stray. And while it may be appropriate to call out sin in those around us, we’re also called to forgive them over and over again, remembering that we’ve already been forgiven by God. This is the good news.
The verses above are sort of a microcosm of the Bible itself. Yes, some parts are harsh. But when taken as a whole, we can see that the big picture is this: God takes sin deeply seriously, but sin is never the end and we will not be permanently separated from Him. Jesus is the personification of this idea. He came to die for our sins, but even before his death and resurrection, He demonstrated through His words and actions that darkness is always followed by reconciliation and redemption.
Heavenly Father, we know our sin creates separation from You, so we thank You for sending Jesus to bridge that gap between us, showing that sin isn’t the end of the story. We’re so grateful that You’ll never leave us when we go astray. Remind us to reflect Your love and forgiveness on those who sin against us. Amen.
Written by Preston Thiemann
Preston Thiemann and his wife, Rachel, live in Lincoln with their daughter, Clara. He is the Web Content Coordinator for the ASEM Marketing team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he’s worked since April 2015. At Sheridan, he also plays guitar with the Praise Band and is active in Sheridan’s 20s & 30s group called Second Quarter. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with friends.