I remember the look I got from a sweet woman who I was talking to about my story. We were in a Bible study together and got chatting about past sinful behaviors. There was a general vague attempt for these ladies to share times they were jealous or maybe said something they shouldn’t have or any number of sins that are ok to mention in polite circles. So I went all in.
It was not long after I had returned to Jesus after a decade of running. I spent most of my 20s angry with God and some of my 30s completely avoiding Him. But avoiding God is like avoiding oxygen. Yeah, I’m just not gonna breathe today because I don’t wanna.
Praise God, He never left me. But then I found myself years later sitting in a bible study with faithful, dear women sharing their struggles and I wanted to blurt out all the things. But I knew better, so I just tamed it down to looking for acceptance and identity through sex. Which is a big one, but in reality only a symptom of other things.
That look I got. Most of the women were nodding their heads and gracious about it all, possibly because they didn’t know what to say and they were just hoping we’d move on. Others were encouraged by what I shared and that there is hope for their kids or grandkids who were straying as I did. But one woman was clearly shocked. The look on her face was shock and then disgust. I knew that look.
Harvest USA’s Founder, John Freeman, wrote a book called Hide or Seek: When Men Get Real with God about Sex. In the foreword, Steve Brown summed up what it means for the church to be un-shockable:
I don’t care where your mind has gone, what you’ve watched on the internet, with whom you’ve slept, what direction your desires have gone, how hard you’ve struggled and failed, whom you’ve hurt or how ashamed you are. The good news is that, first, you haven’t surprised the God who gave us the ‘jet sex engine’ and, second, he’s not angry at you but will show you a way to live in the light. Jack Miller used to say that the entire Bible could be summed up in two sentences: “Cheer up, you’re a lot worse than you think you are. And cheer up, God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is.”
As a Church, we should be un-shockable. God isn’t surprised. There are zero things that surprise him. He knows us and all our histories better than we know ourselves. He’s knows what you’re thinking right now. He knows what you’ll think ten minutes from now. Zero surprise. Zero shock.
I’m always a little surprised when people are surprised by sin. You can tell just how out of touch a person is when a big news story breaks about some upright citizen doing something dreadful, well being caught doing something dreadful. Zero shock.
We recently had a class on the book of Judges in our church. The Bible Project does a fantastic job of summarizing, so I encourage you to watch it here… The Bible Project – JUDGES
I don’t know if you know this, but the bible actually gives Game of Thrones a run for its money on the horror of sin and depravity. I mean people don’t read some books because of their content and the bible would solidly land in these categories on anyone’s list. I honestly have never read all of the book of Judges because it’s so overwhelming. Some of the things that happen are just horrific. But God? Zero shock.
We know the story of Noah. We know that God was so disgusted with humanity that he wiped it out – almost entirely. But he saved Noah. And Noah was kiiiind of a jerk too. Irresponsible to say the least. But God saved him and his family. I’m pretty sure I would have just scratched the whole thing and started over. But God in his mercy…
Is it mercy? This is what we contemplate for the next 39 days. His mercy – it isn’t mercy if it isn’t needed. It isn’t mercy if it it’s earned. Why do we need mercy? Why do we need to show mercy to others?
I repent of my disgust for others’ sins. I repent of the times I forget how sinful I am. I repent of the ways in which I have failed to show mercy in my dealings with others and my thoughts and attitudes toward others. I repent of my low view of God’s grace and mercy that allows for shock in the fact that we need it so very badly.
Thank you, Jesus, for your unshockable grace toward me, a sinner. You fully know me. You fully love me. Get me to zero surprise on that.