Sawdust
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Communion Meditations (2013)

Sawdust

Originally scheduled for March 10

… So the man behind the pulpit says, “examine yourselves; then partake.” Things get kind of quiet; you close your eyes and begin to pray — but about what? You’re supposed to be examining yourself; the distraction is that yourself often include your interaction with others — and the others are the ones you’re praying about. It may be your pastor; and maybe your spouse, children or parents, who knows? But you’re praying about them and the way they have offended you.

Of course, this being communion, you’re being merciful about it. You are quite willing to forgive them, sometimes without even being asked. And you have plenty of good advice for God on how he ought to move in our affairs to bring about such a happy reconciliation. It is a warm and wonderful thought — but it is not self examination. And no matter how warm and wonderful it feels, it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing.

Christ tells us why:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

(Matthew 7:3-5)

 

You are not here to ask God to change them; you are here to examine yourself and ask God to change you.

It feels so good to examine others that it may occur to you to ask why he would want you to examine yourself. The answer is simple: it is the command of Christ that you remember his suffering and sacrifice at the cross. Remember that the world’s only truly innocent man went willingly and suffered and died for your sake. That, and that alone, makes your self examination and repentance truly effective. If God does not wish to forgive you, you cannot be forgiven. He offers you forgiveness, but only on the terms of the cross. It’s the only way that works. All the examination of other’s sins will get you nowhere.

If this is so obvious — and it is — why are you so easily distracted? It’s because Satan understands this to be the strong point of Christianity. Satan may be able to argue the intellectual side quite well; there is no denying the brute fact of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Satan must distract you. For that reason you must ask God’s aid in avoiding the distraction.

About that speck of sawdust: do you not know that it is only the pure in heart can see God? Perhaps that is the kind of vision necessary to remove sawdust from someone else’s eye.

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