Today’s scripture selection: Leviticus 4-6
Key verses: Leviticus 6:7
“In this way the priest will make atonement for them before the LORD, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.”
The idea of atonement makes some people very uncomfortable.
They don’t like the thought of a God who requires sacrifice to “make things right” between that God and creation.
I will admit – it’s bothered me some over the years as well.
I much prefer the idea of God as pure, holy love – always reaching out – always making a way back – out of the darkness to the light. No questions asked; no restitution or requirement – just free, wonderful grace.
But as I have grown older, made a lot of mistakes, and learned something about life – I have grown more comfortable with the whole idea of atonement.
Grace is a wonderful thing – but it costs something – especially the one who offers it to another. Forgiveness and reconciliation come at a price, a very painful price at times. Otherwise it isn’t really worth much.
Think of the one who offends you in some way – some hurtful way. You confront it. And in response you get a half-hearted, perfunctory “sorry-sorry-sorry” from the offender, who then merrily goes about his or her way. And, if you say, “Oh, that’s OK – it doesn’t really matter…” you devalue you and minimize a very real offense in the process. Not a good picture.
On the other hand, picture that same offender sincerely offering apology and restitution, offering somehow to “make things right” even he or she may know there is really no way to do that without your forgiving and moving on. And you, in turn, offer that reconciliation – accepting the restitution as an offering made in good faith – and both of you move on to a new, deeper relationship. It cost both something – but it set things right – at least as far as they could be made right.
Why wouldn’t this be true at the cosmic, spiritual level as well? Why wouldn’t this same principle apply to our relationship with God?
Atonement is never easy – and always costly. But it is very necessary, costly or not.
That’s what make the cross such a beautiful thing – even with all its ugliness.
Prayer: Holy God, may I always appreciate the deep mystery of atonement – especially as found in Jesus on the cross. AMEN.