When was the last time you felt really outraged?
Maybe it was the guy who cut you off on the highway and nearly caused an accident. It's not just anger over your injustice, but it's concern for all the other people on the road he obviously doesn't care about.
Maybe it's images of ridiculous talking heads discussing whether Christians ought to be held accountable for the mass shooting in Orlando. It's not like you don't think God can be in control in that situation -- of course He is, but you're righteously angry over the offense to His name. Of course you are.
For me, lately, it’s been happening a lot; I’m sorry to say. That’s why I haven’t been blogging. It’s bad enough that I’ve let the outrage take up residence in my heart and that I’ve occasionally given it rein to influence my spoken words. I've read the words I write when I'm in this frame of heart and mind and it's not pretty. You haven't though, because they stay in the drafts folder, smoldering and smoking under passive aggressive swipes at unnamed opponents and a very unChristlike tone that growls, "I'm done with the lot of you."
The target or the motivation varies by the minute. Perceived offenses. Advice falling on deaf ears. An individual here, the indefinable “them” there. Baby-murderers and social media slights. Political correctness and unchecked terrorism. Liars and whiners and first-world petulance.
Outrageous. (Insert angry emoji here)
Not according to Geoff Thomas:
“There is nothing outrageous about passing judgment on a sinner.”*
Think about that. The universal response to someone else's offense is to judge their sinful state, to call out their immorality, to disdain their loathsomeness. It's outrageous! we cry.
No, it's expected, the Word says.
God’s love, however, now that is an outrage.
That God loves sinners is outrageous.
God, holy, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, wise, powerful, just, good, trustworthy, does the impossible and loves the lawbreaker.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)
He calls out the lowliest, the unloveliest, the despised, the outcast. Think Fantine. Think Shylock, Boo Radley, Hester Prynne. Think Gollum. Think Gomer.
And the Lord said to Hosea, “Go again . . .”
Again. Go again. After repeated rejections and the defeat of seeing your wife crawl back to other men, go again. She doesn’t need the money; she doesn’t need shelter; she's never been wanting for love. Her rejection is unequivocally a rejection of you. She has squandered intimacy and perverted covenantal love, over and over. And God says, Go again.
“. . . love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress.”
Love her. Don’t even think about just tolerating her. Don’t even think about just making up the couch and turning the lock on the bedroom door. Love her. Give yourself up for her as Christ has given Himself for the church. God, this is too much. It's . . . it's outrageous. How could you ask this of Hosea? How could you ask this of me?
So Hosea bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And he said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” (Hosea 3:1-3 ESV)
The world divorces the outcast, moves in to gated communities, builds walls and moats, legislates marks and identification papers, approves segregation. This is normal. We applaud the outrage against the whore, the cheat, the liar, the baby killer.
God redeems. God restores. God adopts and gives a name and inheritance. God leads the outcast to the community square, to a seat of respect. God sits them next to you at church. God leads them to swim in the same pool, live in your neighborhood, have their kids go to the same school and play on the same soccer team as yours. She joins your Bible study, sings on the worship team, brings a gift to your baby shower.
This is outrageous, and she is you.
You get that, right? You are not Hosea, though his selfless, persistent, redeeming love is admirable and worthy of imitation -- and with the promises of 1 John 3, it's possible. But that's a secondary lesson in this story. The overriding, shining, startling, incomprehensible picture is of God loving and redeeming His unlovely, unworthy people. God is selfless, persistent, redeeming. You were lowly, despised and unlovely. (I know I still feel pretty unlovely when I recall the ugly outrage I’ve directed at others. I’m sure I look it, too.)
“There is nothing outrageous about passing judgment on a sinner . . . what’s outrageous is welcoming her back into fellowship . . . The outrageous is really the approval of God, the smile of God, on what Hosea has done.”*
It’s a shock to the moralistic system of the world to witness God seeking His sinner.
He breaks the power of cancell'd sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avail'd for me.
Excuse me while I go delete my drafts folder.
* Geoff Thomas's messages on Hosea delivered at the Reformed Baptist Family Conference 2016 immeasurably influenced this post. Pastor Thomas serves the Alfred Place Baptist Church in ABerystwyth, Wales. The full series can be heard and downloaded here.
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
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