Remember the Image
I’ve been making these beaded memory wire bracelets for the Operation Christmas Child boxes our church will pack in November. They’re so pretty I decided to wear one to church last week. In an inspired moment I gave the bracelet I was wearing to a woman I know almost nothing about except she is a sister in Christ. I wanted her to know, and believe, I understood that about her. It made perfect sense to me to remove it from my arm right there in the church pew and place it on hers with a hug and the phrase “we’re a circle of sisters.” At that moment a simple piece of coiled memory wire with a lot of different beads became an object lesson for me. Memory wire is interesting because no matter how many times you test it by uncoiling it to put it on or take it off it remembers the shape it was created in. That’s both the basis and the beginning of my object lesson.
Memory wire is like the image of God created in us. It’s a shape we may forget but God remembers. We are the beads. The beads are only accents that make the bracelet a visible and beautiful reminder of that remembered shape. I hope that woman will wear her bracelet and let it prompt her memory: God remembers his image in her and so do I…AND….she’s a beautiful “bead” in the circle of sisters.
I’ll probably never see any of the girls who’ll receive one of these bracelets next winter but my heart is filled with that same hope for them. I know God remembers his image in each of them. My hope is that bracelet wrapped around their arm may help them remember too.
Romans 2:13 Hearing the law does not make people right with God. It is those who obey the law who will be right with him. 14 (Those who are not Jews do not have the law, but when they freely do what the law commands, they are the law for themselves. This is true even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences. Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.)
It was only when I pasted these three verses into my digital journal that I noticed the close parenthesis at the end and realized the enclosed explanation was twice as long as the sentence it was clarifying. That simple fact seemed like a Biblical object lesson for me to think about.
Being right with God is more complicated than just knowing what the law is. Obeying the law isn’t a matter of separating the have’s from the have not’s at all. Instead, God makes a connection to what he’s written in the heart. “They [those who do not have the law] show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands.”
The object lesson: “Right with God” is the complicated relationship between being obedient to what the brain knows about the law and the obedience of the heart desiring to freely respond to it.
Hebrews 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
There’s a warning here about letting your heart be turned away from the living God. It becomes a matter of faith when we recognize our imperfection and our first thought is to cover it up. That’s how “a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” can happen.
Imperfect People aren’t a problem for God. He’s got a good handle on how to deal with them. What does deeply concern him is the ease with which we can make that wrong choice when confronted with our imperfection when the whole purpose of faith is to keep us connected and close to him.
That is a dismal reality that sometimes happens but there’s also hope “Today,” “so that none of [us] may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” I saved this quote from Richard Dahlstrom’s writing. http://stepbystepjourney.com/?p=1605 “All of us know our inadequacies pretty well – what we need is to be told how much we’re loved, where we’re gifted, where we can shine.”
“We have come to share in Christ” because that is how God has chosen to deal with our imperfection. We can choose to accept his anger and be left out or we can enter into our connection to him and be changed by choosing repentance. Repentance is often humiliating and painful, as pieces of that hardened heart are broken off for all to see.
What if humility and hurt are really the two halves of Grace? What if God chooses to show us “how much we’re loved, where we’re gifted, where we can shine” through the humility and pain of repentance? I know for sure that’s the kind of Grace that moves my heart from the pages of a great book to a life of faith connected to the “living” God.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
It’s a fact of be-ing that food and water are real physical needs of life the body craves. Our bodies make us very aware of those needs. It was that word “craves” that connected my mind to this blessing this morning. It means to long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need.
This is Jesus at his best using something as basic and daily as hunger and thirst as images to remind us there’s Another Kind of Life to long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need – a life of righteousness.
The blessing is two-fold: to crave and to be filled.