Watching a friend walk away from Jesus is hard. I’ve seen this happen more than I would wish in my lifetime. It gets harder (Hebrews 6 would say impossible) when they know the truth. Those who know true things can pass a theology exam, but have no real hope in Jesus. So, it’s harder for them to be reached by the gospel to which they have been “inoculated.” Regardless of the situation, watching this happen is gut wrenching.
The connected digital world in which we live makes this all the more challenging for me. One of my friends who has walked away from Jesus and his family began to share his choices loudly on Facebook and on his blog. His sermons…I mean posts…about his turn to atheism cut me like a dagger each time I read them. His comments on Facebook were repugnant to me. His advice about how to treat people was particularly hard to read knowing what I know of his recent choices. For a while, I followed. I engaged in conversation. And then, I had enough and decided to defriend, unfollow, block, or whatever was necessary so that I wouldn’t see what he was saying any more. It was just too hard to watch.
Then, a few days later, it hit me. I started thinking about my sinful heart, desires and choices. I thought about the level of self-righteousness in my own soul, the cesspool of iniquity that bubbles up from time to time, what Paul would call this “body of death” (Romans 7) that I war against. And as I thought about the darkness in my heart, I realized something…
God can’t not see that.
God can’t not see my sin. My rebellious heart that would seek to dethrone Him from His rightful place in the universe is open and laid bare to Him. He clearly sees my attitudes of idolatrous pride that the Old Testament compares to adultery—all of which are infinitely repugnant to him and worthy of an eternal punishment I can’t even fathom. He can’t block, unfollow or set any kind of filters so that He doesn’t see it. God can’t do what I did. He can’t not see my sin that is more heinous toward Him than anything my friend could ever do toward me.
Now, don’t get silly. I’m not trying to limit God. Rather, I’m saying that God cannot go against His own nature and continue existing. He can’t lie. He can’t leave sin unpunished. He can’t not exist and still be God. So, when I say that God “can’t” do something, I’m agreeing with C.S. Lewis who said, “[God’s] omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense.”
So, when I say that God can’t do that to me, I’m saying that God, by definition, knows every part of who I am…every thought…every desire…for good or ill. He knows it all. Every wretched, stained part of my heart is clearly seen and laid bare to the One with whom we have to deal. Everything. He can’t not see it.
And He loves me anyway. He doesn’t defriend me. He doesn’t block me. He doesn’t unfollow me. In fact, because Jesus died for me, i can approach this God who knows me inside and out with confidence and receive mercy to help in my time of need.
Tim Keller writes, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
What grace that God who knows us fully would love us fully by sending His Son so that our sins, which are many, might be forgiven fully!