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Face to Face
Have you ever experienced the effects of a poison? It may have been an accidental contact with an unknown substance or food poisoning or a brush against a plant (like poison ivy). We have probably all been poisoned to greater or lesser degree at least once in our lives.
Poisons are all around us. I suspect that I have enough toxins in my garage to wipe out my entire block. We may keep them in child-safe containers, but the devastating potential effects are sitting on shelves in our homes, our basements, and garages. We really can't get away from the danger, so we manage it to the best of our abilities.
It is possible for your soul to be poisoned. Just as there are toxins in our environment that can disrupt our nervous systems, irritate our skin, and take our lives. So also there are poisons that can hurt, maim, or destroy our spiritual well being.
Every week we come face to face with the venomous substances that would poison our souls. We admit that these toxins aren't in our environment, but are already in us when we say to God and each other that "we have sinned in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone."
To stop with just admitting our sin, however, is much like calling a poison control center and failing to do anything with the information we receive. The good news is this: God has done something about our toxic thoughts, words, and actions in Jesus Christ. We can't do anything to deserve God's forgiveness because Jesus did it all for us by dying on a cross.
To put this in very theological terms: God's Law brings us face to face with our sin its monstrous effects and its relentless hold on our lives. The Gospel of Jesus Christ then brings us face to face with all the good gifts God gives, chiefly the forgiveness of our sins.
The practical side of this is that we are confronted with the Law, but we need to live in the Gospel. The grace of God in Christ is the only thing that can change us for the better and it is the only antidote to the poison in our hearts. So, may that grace predominate in our thinking, our speaking, and in what we do.
May God's grace dominate how we treat each other. I know that it can be difficult to live with other people. I pray that you can bring some grace into the world by reflecting God's goodness to people (like you) who don't deserve it.