Redemption is a challenging and messy process, not from God’s perspective, but from ours. We struggle with who we think deserves redemption and how it should be offered. This struggle is birthed and fueled by our preferred and very limited understanding of reality.
Last night, Jan and I watched the movie The Shack. We watched it when it first came out several years ago. There are a variety of interpretations of the movie and its theology. Some of the conversations relating to those personal interpretations are very heated. Those conflicts are not the purpose of what I am sharing.
As I watched the movie, I came to realize once again that we can too easily think, or be taught, that we have it all figured out. The danger in having God all figured out is that we could represent Him to others through our narrow lens of understanding and paint a picture of the Lord that will do more damage than good.
Last night at a gathering of friends, I had a conversation where I shared with a long-time follower of Jesus the longer that I follow the Lord the fewer absolutes I bring to the relationship. The absolutes I was referencing were on my side of the relationship. They were my interpretations of spiritual reality. I have come to a place where God is the only absolute can I trust. All the subsequent issues I want to define as an absolute must come under the influence of God’s immense love and willingness to forgive, not my interpretation of who I think deserves His love.
The actor portraying Jesus in the movie said something to the actor portraying a father struggling with the murder of his young daughter. He said our faith is about following Jesus and knowing He will always be with us no matter what sorrow crosses our path. Jesus wants to walk with us in the pain and joy of life. That is an absolute.
When the credits of the movie began to roll, I came away with the assurance, once again, of God’s great redeeming love for all of us. That assurance did not come from the movie. The movie only affirmed that truth. It came from living each day with the Absolute One who is faithful beyond measure, even when the lament of our pain overwhelms us. That kind of assurance gives hope to suffering people. On the other hand, it will stir up a religious spirit that seems to have everything figured out when it comes to who deserves the redeeming love of God. We all have a shack we will visit at some point in our lives. That visit is only safe when our Redeemer is present.