Key Word:- CHANGE
Title:- Maiming Mephibosheth
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Denzel Washington, plays the fallen and haunted, former U.S. Marine and lead character, in the 2004 Film, ‘Man on Fire.’ Based on the novel of the same name by A.J. Quinnell, though fiction, the film is supposed to be a construct of several true stories and personalities, especially that of the American hero, ‘Creasey.’
The selling point of the book and the film, is that great attraction to fallen humanity of ‘redemption through ordeal.’ Indeed, many have speculated that this is why Quinnell’s character ‘Creasey,’ remains very popular in Japan, where the cultural attraction of stories of ancient ‘Ronin’, or shamed Samurai, fighting to regain their lost honor, still draw greatly on Japanese cultural roots and so consequently, still retain an high dollar value! My point is this: because of the work of God’s grace, there often arises something in Christians, that both wants to redeem ourselves and make amends for what we have done. The difficulty and danger we have in religion, is marrying this desire of ‘restitution’ with the need for ‘personal redemption.’ Penance, which involves either eternal or temporal ‘redemption through ordeal,’ all sounds so honorable, so wonderful, so possible, so glorious, so why not do it; and even better why not 'can it, pack it and sell it'! We have forgotten that the backlash to this packaging of penitential redemption, was one of the main driving forces in the Reformation. Yet penance, still has great influence on our lives.
So, let me cut to the chase and ask you this: “What ‘trial by ordeal’ are you consciously or unconsciously subjecting yourself to today, in the hope of ‘penancing’ your way into feeling better, or changing your circumstances?” Or how about this: “How and why do you continue to punish yourself, for already forgiven sins?”
Now don’t get me wrong, grief, remorse, and restitution, or if you will, the practicalities of making amends; may all be a necessary part of the ‘panoply of repair’ needed for healthy emotions and relationships. I also acknowledge that these things have never been an academic or intellectual exercise. No. They cut deep into our present reality and change the course of our personal history. I think for example of the man I met a few years ago, who upon becoming a Christian, confessed to his boss, that he had been cheating on his travelling expenses. Though we are talking about extremely small sums of money, he felt he needed to make open confession and restitution. He lost his job, and quite probably any hope of being hired in the same professional field he was extensively trained and superbly gifted to fill. Or, how about the former ‘playboy’ husband with four children, who over recent years has fallen in love with his wife, honoured and adored his children, become a Christian and a deacon in their local church, who, wanting to make amends with those within and outside of his family that he has hurt, eventually owns up to multiple adultery, only to find himself divorced, separated, excommunicated, and penniless, living in an efficiency apartment, all alone. I wonder if both circumstances were an act of unwarranted penance?
The church has always had these problems to deal with. At the beginning of the 21st century, as the former mafia men, corporate hucksters, gang members, drug dealers, sex offenders, secret porn consumers, all come into the church, (well, admittedly, the porn consumers are already there) we shall have to deal with redemption and it’s consequences in ways we have yet to dream of. Oh, and lest we get a holier than thou kind of attitude, it is my belief, that if every Christian were to write into the Inland Revenue, confessing and making amends for every cent they had withheld from the government, then we could in one fell swoop of confession and contrition, overwhelm the beaurocracy of our land to a stunned and startling stand still!
Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, of the house of Saul, had been dropped as a child by his fleeing nurse. Consequently, he was maimed and incapable of walking at all. This is the biblical picture of a contrite heart. It is one of maimed brokenness, of poor and utter dependence. It contrasts directly with the proud, arrogant, and ‘I don’t care ‘coz’ I can fix it’, kind of heart. It does not prefix some internal or external quest for redemption by ordeal but limply and beggarly, lies weeping for grace before the eternal throne of God.
Have you got this kind of contrite heart? Good. Now be wise with it.
Listen:- “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2b
Pray: - Lord, You redeem. Lord, You restore. Lord, You reclaim. Lord help me today in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.