Monday, October 10, 2011

A Hymn Demetrios was Humming in the Shower the Other Day

You probably know it:

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven,
To His feet thy tribute bring,
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who, like me, His praise should sing?

Um, well, actually, everybody should … especially those who are aware of having been “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.”

Demetrios says he doesn’t think it’s meant that way. But the thing is, “that way” keeps cropping up in hymn after hymn. Odd coincidence, that.

Oh, and by the way, have you conquered every vice and mastered every virtue? No? Then you’re (at best) still in the process of being healed. It's good to be quite sober, quite realistic, about our inner condition.

And another song I’ve been humming under my breath is one from the Youth for Christ movement. I used to attend, in my youth.

Gone, gone, gone, gone,
Yes, my sins are gone.
Now my soul is free and in my heart’s a song.
Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes, that’s good enough for me.
I shall live eternally,
Praise God, my sins are gone!

I don’t really want to dis this hymn. Sins from which we have repented are indeed, in a sense, buried in the deepest sea. It’s good to be reassured concerning this, and to rejoice in it.

But there’s sometimes an underlying assumption I want to point out, which is that God, to be favorably disposed toward us, needs to overlook or be blinded to our sins and our sinfulness. What’s needed, in reality, is for God to forgive us. The two are not the same thing. In fact, they are mutually exclusive, because God can’t forgive us if He sees nothing about us that needs His forgiveness. Or if He forgives us, that means He is aware of what it is (and who it is) He is forgiving.

It’s a form of disbelief in God’s infinite, unconditional Love, and in His forgiveness, to suppose He will only be friendly to us if He can contrive to regard us as pure and spotless.

Our sins are buried in the deepest sea, yes, but we need to understand that this sea is the fathomless ocean of His forgiveness. Not of His alleged blindness.


Marsha said...

I love's hard for Orthodox people to understand the mindset we constantly have to strive against , though, as we were taught this stuff from birth. The need, the freedom to be open before God in faith that He will forgive and heal, instead of us trying desperately to clean up before He He'll love's a VERY big step and one that is a long process IME.