Today I volunteered in the kids’ class at bible study, and among the flow charts and maps I noticed this list pinned up on the wall.
Every few minutes, it caught my eye again. Even after an hour, the feeling of sadness had not gone away – and so here I am, processing this all in the privacy of my internet corner.
Mary, I don’t know anything about you or about your story. I don’t know whether you are a real person on or whether this list was a brain storming exercise for a small group. I don’t know exactly what has happened to earn you the labels of selfish, prideful, disobedient, unfaithful and being a bad example. Possibly all of those things are true of you. Each of those is likely true of me: I struggle with them all.
What makes me sad about your list is not the descriptions of your sin, but the fact that the list was entitled “God’s view of Mary”. The title suggests to me that you feel that God is distant from, disapproving of and disappointed in you. I’m imagining you see God frowning at you. I bet you feel you need to try harder.
Mary, I believe that the diagnosis of your failures is probably accurate, and in fact probably worse even than you think. However, I don’t think the list should be entitled “God’s view of Mary.” I think it should be entitled “Mary’s view of God’s view of Mary.” Because when I think of God looking down on us in our sin, this is what comes to mind:
“For God so loved the world, that he sent his only Son.”(John 3:16)
This horrible, rebellious, selfish, prideful, disappointing world of ours? He loves it. Jesus didn’t come to placate his deeply disappointed and angry Father, he was SENT on a rescue mission by his holy Father who loved us. Wonder upon wonder upon wonder.
I think of God describing himself as broken hearted over our sin, as ever-reaching towards us, even when we run away. He is the jilted lover, the devastated parent, the one who has written our names onto his heart and carved them into his hands.
Mary, he loves you. Oh, how he loves you.
He is not blind to your sin, and not for one second does he mean to leave it untreated – good grief no! Those issues are such big Issues to him that he himself stepped into the fray to deal with them in Christ. Jesus has made it possible for rule-breakers and disappointments like us to be included forever in the fold of God’s beloved people.
And that’s what you are, Mary, if you belong to Jesus: Beloved. If you make a list entitled “God’s view of Mary,” I think it should say “lavishly loved” (1 John 3:1-3)
May God give you the power to understand just exactly how deep his love is. I’m praying Ephesians 3:14-19 for you today.
With love from your forgiven-of-much sister in Christ,
Today is day 10 of 31 days of belonging. I interrupted my mini-series on justification for today’s post, but will resume tomorrow. for a complete list of posts in this series, click here.