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Live Not Die

Live Not Die

02 September 2009

Scripture:

21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my laws and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done. 23 Do you think, asks the Sovereign Lord, that I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. (Ezekiel 18:21-23 NLT)

This section of Ezekiel’s prophecy deals with two common errors in the Jews’ theology and the theology of almost everyone in my world as well – including me! I don’t mean that these two theology errors are something we consciously think about, but more that they are attitudes that seep out from somewhere deep inside our humanity.

Error One: God blames parents for the behavior of their children and children are stuck with the patterns of behavior they learn at home. God said that there are good kids of bad parents and bad kids of good parents and he’ll deal with each one just as they are. This doesn’t mean parents aren’t responsible for teaching, training, and exemplifying godliness to their kids.

Error Two: God is primarily a judge who is looking to throw the book at anyone who steps out of line. God is ready to forgive and tear up the ticket! God doesn’t conduct “sting” operations. God doesn’t want to bring judgment on people, he wants to see people turn their backs on sin and live good lives. This doesn’t mean that sin has no consequences, but it does mean that God is a God of forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

Truth: It’s human to look at life’s wrong turns and failures and try to decide whose fault it is. It’s Godly to look at life’s wrong turns and failures and try to make it better.

It’s human to put people (including ourselves) in boxes – the “loser” box or “never do anything right” box or the “jerk” box. God is developing a box-free community of Christ-followers who actually can change. We can change life-long patterns of attitude and behavior, even the ones learned in our childhood. We can live and not die. God tears up the ticket when we face the truth and turn to his life-transforming grace.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me get my unconscious theology straight about me and other people. Thanks for reminding me how good you are and how eagerly you tear up the ticket and how delighted you are when we do better. Your steadfast love! Amen.

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