If things work out I'll get my hair cut this week. When he is finished the barber will get out a small mirror that I can use to look at the job he has done. If I hold to form when he does this I'll say something like this: "You're a professional. I don’t need to look at it. I trust you." The reality is that he either will cut it well, as he has in the past, or he will have botched it. If he does the latter my looking in a mirror won’t make any difference, and I'll find someone else to cut it next time. He cuts hair. I don't. I trust him to do his job and to do it well, without involving me with the details.
This came to mind as my wife came home from the dentist last Friday. The dentisit had a camera so that, if desired, she could see what he did that day. Thinking of my upcoming visit there I had the same thoughts as when I visit the barber: "You're the professional, so I trust you to do the job you have trained for."
But this morning it came to mind that my attitude of "trusting the professional" isn't always best. I serve as pastor of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church and one of the things we do nearly every time we gather for worship is a congregational prayer of confession of sin. Then after the prayer I read some words from the Bible that are intended to provide the assurance of forgiveness. They are words that speak of God's forgiveness of those who have sinned and who have then turned back towards Him in faith.
Words that convey the assurance of forgiveness are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. This morning I read John 8:34-36. Next Sunday, on Easter, I'll read Psalm 32:3-5. Last Sunday it was Psalm 130:3-4. The point of reading God's words of forgiveness is that while I may be the church professional, no one is forgiven on my say so. The only one who forgives sin is God, and so as the barber uses a mirror to show me my haircut I use God's word to show people God's forgiving work in their lives.
When it comes to understanding God, his nature and character, His attributes, His ways of working in the world, His purposes…virtually anything involving God that we could imagine, it would be easy to do one of two things. The first is to understand those things through our imagination, what we think that they should be, or would be, if God had left it up to us to decide. And the second is to believe what others have to say, perhaps on the strength of their learning, the force of their personality or their role in life.
But perhaps the harder way, and the truly much better way, is to look into the Bible and see what God Himself has to say about the matter at hand.
God promises to forgive His people, and He promises them so much more, but don’t take my word for it. Take His.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.