Tuesday Re-mix –
Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife.
Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people,
even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.” Hosea 3:1 (The Message)
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11
Hosea had a prostitute for a wife. I cannot even begin to relate to Hosea’s pain. I read Hosea and really do have to stretch my imagination to try to feel the pain, and even then, I am sure I cannot even get close. It is, I think, the severest form of unfaithfulness. That is probably why God chose it to illustrate His displeasure with His people. Hosea’s illustration represents among the deepest of betrayals and pain we can know, and the reconciliation to which it points likewise represents the most significant we can begin to embrace.
Just as God’s wrath is just one shade of His deep, deep love for His people, His forgiveness is likewise one shade of that same love. They are two sides of the same coin. They are both His very nature. But though He did not call His people to try to emulate His wrath, He absolutely does call us to forgive as He forgives. In fact, He created an entire movement (one we call “the church”) designed specifically to reflect that remarkable forgiveness. It is His very nature, and it is therefore in the very core purpose of His church.
And still, we, His church, read and grasp with great astonishment the story of Hosea and Gomer and the forgiving heart of a husband toward an unrepentant prostitute wife. It shocks us. It surprises us. Its very idea eludes us, at least in any practical way. Jesus demonstrated it as well, forgiving the adulteress woman in John 8. Throughout all of scripture, we get story after story of God’s forgiving nature. Even when He brings His wrath, it is for the purpose of reconciling His people back to Him. It is Who He is.
This reminder encourages me greatly. If it is the very nature of God to forgive, and it is the very nature of Jesus to demonstrate that same forgiveness, then that means that, somewhere in our DNA…in the deepest recesses of the church and its memory banks, there is forgiveness. We can muster it. We can reflect it. We can demonstrate it in the same shocking fashion as Hosea, because it is in our blood. Does that encourage you?