Wed., Apr. 24, 2016
Ephesians 1:4: That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be his holy people—people without blame before him.
He looked at his friend and declared to me a bit sheepishly, “Gordie made me do it.”
You would think I was navigating two 7-year-olds on the playground. Instead, it was two 70ish men caught with their hand in the candy jar. Literally.
Here’s the story. One of the church’s I serve offers a Wednesday Night Church School (WNCS) program. A couple years ago, we incorporated a Secret Pal program where adults send cards to the WNCS kids once a month. At the end of the WNCS year, we have a pizza party and the kids find out who their Secret Pal is. It’s a win-win ministry. Kids LOVE getting cards in the mail. The adults engage with the kids. At least one Secret Pal has continued to correspond with their WNCS child after the year is concluded because they enjoy it so much.
A week ago, the kids made gifts for their Secret Pals: little buckets of “flowers” with candy Kisses and Rolos incorporated into the design. Scattered around the church, the pots were awaiting this evening when they would be given to their Secret Pals.
After church last Sunday, some folks were having coffee. Some of the pots were sitting next to the coffee pot. Harold asked me, “What are those trophies for?” I shared these were Secret Pal gifts for this coming week. Harold turned towards his buddy Gordon, sitting next to them. Their non-verbal communication gave it all away. Gordon shyly questioned, “The candies weren’t for us to eat?” By now, the ladies are about in stitches because they have also discovered what has happened. Gordon and Harold “helped” themselves to the candies in the flower pots. They even took some of the candies off the flower-shaped cutouts. Rather than reading the thank you cards stuck into the pots, they focused only on the luring candies.
That’s when Harold said, “Gordie made me do it.” The rest of us nearly fell off of our chairs. Harold did what most of the rest would have done as he tried to pass the blame. How often we pass blame away from ourselves and lure someone else into accepting at least partial responsibility. It’s human nature.
A really interesting fact about Jesus is this: he accepts the blame for all of our sins so we can be completely blameless before him. This is unconditional love. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to be holy. He wants to make us holy. The problem is we focus more on trying to make ourselves appear holier than others rather than understanding how Jesus does the opposite just for us.
The Secret Pals received their flower pots tonight. Only one WNCS kid asked me what happened to some of the candies that had been in his pot. I couldn’t pass the blame onto Harold and Gordie. I let it slide by, thankful I have a Messiah in my life that does the same for me.
Lord God, it’s amazing how Jesus accepts our blame so quickly. We’re not as gracious as you and try to shift blame to someone else rather than recognizing ways we let you, others and ourselves down. Thank you for modeling true unconditional love. Amen.
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