Not a self-punishing ritual, but a ritual of turning away from sin and turning toward Christ.
Whether I sin while sleeping alone or if I sleep with someone else out of wedlock, I need repentance to mark my life.
I need the grace of forgiveness which comes from Christ’s sacrificial death to be applied to me on a daily, hourly basis.
Even my thoughts about others–my bitterness, my lust, my anger, my judgmentalism–need to be subjected to this repentance. God’s kingdom extends even to my bed…and fornication is not the only sin that can happen in one’s bed. Not by a long shot.
My loneliness, my jealousy, my cravings, my curiosity must not be unchecked by the God who reigns over all. Not one square inch of creation is outside of his rule…and this includes my bed. My brain. My thoughts and the neurons and brain-folds that contain them.
But instead of this realization leading me to a harsh aestheticism, it must lead me to the cross.
Otherwise, I would be better off ‘following my heart.’
Yeah, I’ve done that. It’s empty. It’s dark there.
But in Christ, darkness is not only absent…He doesn’t carry it. It’s not only out of stock, it’s never been on his list of things to order.
This morning as I drove to the seminary, I turned on the Caedmon’s Call recording of “Thy Mercy My God.” I sang it over and over again, mostly because I didn’t believe what I was singing.
“Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart/which wonders to feel its own hardness depart/Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground/and weep for the praise of the mercy I’ve found.”
Not this morning. God’s mercy didn’t feel like more than a match for anything. And I really liked my heart’s hardness when I woke up this morning.
So I played it again. And again. After all, if I’m supposed to be preaching the Gospel to myself every day, isn’t this what it would look like? Reviewing the truth over and over again so that it wouldn’t just inform but go on to shape?
As I sang, I wept for a variety of reasons. I wept for the love of my sin…for the hate of my sin. For the absence of faith…for its enduring presence. And ultimately, for the promise that God has called me His through baptism which points to the sacrificial death of his son. Eerdman Neumeister said it beautifully:
“Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptised into Christ. Drop your ugly accusation–I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I’ve travelled, all your might has come unraveled–and against your tyranny, God my Lord, unites with me.”
Because Satan’s might has been dissolved in my life, Christ says what I do in my bedroom is His business. He cares about my thought, my word, my deed. And He does not condemn me for my sin…but rather gives of Himself so that I might know the Father’s love and that His wrath would be turned away from me and onto Jesus.
For that I am grateful.
Lord, make me more grateful.