Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know it’s true
Its my joy to honor you.
If you don’t believe in original sin, I can only surmise that you have never attended a Baptist business meeting or an HOA annual meeting.
Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded that we need a savior. Every time I watch the nightly news, I am reminded that we need a savior. There is so much hatred and violence that, at times, it can feel overwhelming.
A North Carolina man has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a 5-year-old boy who was playing in his front yard with his two sisters. Darius N. Sessoms, 25, of Wilson, N.C., has been charged with first-degree murder.
The 5-year-old was identified by family members as Cannon Hinnant.
Cannon was shot in the head while playing outside of his father’s home Sunday, his family said. He died after being taken to the Wilson Medical Center.
The young boy’s father is next-door neighbors with Sessoms.
A woman who said she witnessed the horrific incident claimed Sessoms shot Cannon, then ran back into his own house.
“My first reaction was he’s playing with the kids,” said Doris Lybrand. “For a second, I thought, ‘That couldn’t happen.’ People don’t run across the street and kill kids.”
Cannon’s mother said the boy’s 7-year-old and 8-year-old sisters witnessed the shooting, which police were alerted of at around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
The racial unrest that white America wants to ignore is on the news almost every night. I recently listened to a podcast featuring African American Willie Jennings.
Willie Jennings is an associate professor of systematic theology Africana studies and religious studies at Yale University. He’s an ordained Baptist Minister and his author of Christian Imagination, Theology and the Origins of Race as well as a commentary on the book of Acts.
I remember my first time—you never forget your first—the first time a white police officer pulls you over.
I was 14 riding a brand-new bicycle that my eldest brother had bought for me on my birthday. I had outgrown the old Stingray bike. I rode all over town this extraordinary gift from my brother that marked my step into young adulthood.
It also marked, unfortunately, the step into the sickening ordinary that would be part of my life.
The police officer yelled from his car get off the bike. I quickly obeyed remembering the words of my father and my brothers when they said, “Stay out of trouble. Do what they tell you.”
“Whose bike is this?”
“It’s mine,” I said.
“Sit on the curb and don’t move,” the police officer said, as he took my bike back to the patrol car and left me sitting on the curb.
I saw people drive by watching me sitting near flashing lights and I wish someone, anyone who knew me, and knew what a good church boy I was, would drive by, stop and help me.
This was the first time I felt that helplessness.
I did not feel helpless because it was nothing I could do. I felt helpless because there was nothing that this police officer could do to me that I could stop in any way. After what seemed like hours to check the serial number on my bike, he told me I could take it and go.
That was it. No apology. No words of advice or wisdom. He just drove off. I have had such encounters with police officers multiple times in every decade of my life since then until now.
Not the same, but exactly with the same dynamic—I’ve been pulled over or stopped on the street or stopped in a store—for doing nothing wrong.
And then I left each encounter with the return that feeling of helplessness.
We need a Savior to do something about the darkness of our hearts. What would change our hearts? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. We are the beast and He is the beauty.
The ancient Scriptures teach us that Jesus became a beast on a cross to transfer his beauty to our lives.
Nothing but his love for you. Jesus’ death shows the depth of his love.
He lost everything. He was crushed. He was marred beyond human likeness. He was the Lord of the worlds. He lost the universe. He lost his glory. He lost his beauty. He lost everything.
He loves you more than the world. He loves you more than the glacier-carved mountains. He was willing to let everything go in order to get us.
As a pastor, I’ve talked to people who were dying. They never say, “I regret I didn’t spend more time at the office.” What do they regret? They always have regrets with regard to relationships and love.
Are you melted by spiritual understandings of how much he loves you? Do you live in the reality of it? Is it a walking reality? Can you breathe it? Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Can you touch it? Do you know how different you’d be if you’d realize the magnitude of his love?
In his book Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer, M.D., writes:
“I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.
Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks. ‘Will my mouth always be like this?’ she asks. ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘it will. It is because the nerve was cut.’ She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. ‘I like it,’ he says, ‘it is kind of cute.’
All at once, I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.”
Once upon a time, in the most surprising reversals in the history of stories, the beast in me and the beast in you needed the beauty of the Son of the Living God to rescue us. And at Calvary, God twisted His lips to meet our hideous and disfigured souls–to show that the kiss still works.