Grace and Peace to you.
John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
We deplore the recent shootings, but in fact we all have the same murderous instinct: we want to outsource our pain. When we’re mad we yell at someone. It just feels right. When we’re troubled, we believe deep down that our troubles will be resolved if we can give our suffering to somebody else. It’s why shooters rampage, and it’s why we insult people who make us mad. It’s why we execute criminals, wage wars, hate minorities, blame our opponents, punish wrongdoers, break dishes and scold our children. It’s all the same violent gesture. It’s all scapegoating. (We make some distinctions, but Jesus would have none of that. “You’ve heard it said, ‘You shall not kill.’ But I say if you are angry you are liable to judgment.”)
We suppose that only more suffering will relieve us of our suffering. But shooters never solve problems, do they? Yelling never heals anything. Scapegoats never actually take away our sin. No matter how clinically it’s applied, anger, violence, blame, judgment, punishment, retribution or prejudice never relieves us of our pain; it just adds to it.
No, it’s not suffering that saves us— not ours, not our enemy’s, not our scapegoat’s, our sacrificial lamb’s, or even Christ’s on the cross—it’s forgiveness. God forgives us: this is the only way we are saved. It’s God who takes away the sin of the world; God’s Lamb is the nonviolent one who forgives because it is God’s will. Such a one will surely become a victim; but it’s the forgiving, not the suffering, that takes away our sin.
To follow the Lamb of God is to join in companionship with the Loving One, to live gently in a violent world, to allow Christ’s spirit of peace and compassion to flood our hearts. It is neither to be a judge nor a doormat, but to grant compassion to all, even—especially—to those whose fear leads them to violence.
Behold, the Forgiving One of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Come, let us follow.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes