Eavesdropping In Paris: A Changed Perspective From Psalm 130
Photo courtesy of Cameron Coker - cameroncoker.com
I knew it was rude to eavesdrop, but I really couldn’t help myself. Regardless of that unwritten conversational rule, I was part of a pretty captive audience being stuck in a van with nine other people careening through the French countryside. It had been a long day and night, and you’d think our work was over until morning. But that wasn’t the case for one of my teammates.
We were leaving a concert put on by the local missionaries, and the violin player needed a ride into Paris. So my teammate struck up a conversation with the musician as he swerved around the tiny European cars. But it wasn’t just a ride into Paris, it was more like a divine appointment. My teammate exchanged names with the violin player and went directly into sharing the gospel.
Unlike in the United States, especially in the Bible belt, where most anyone would either change the subject as quickly as possible or angrily get on a soapbox, the violin player did nothing of the sort. A self-professed Atheist, he answered questions pleasantly and talked into the night. And so I eavesdropped - both in awe of my friend’s boldness and the conversation that ensued.
It was unlike anything I had ever heard before, and I’d like to say it ended in some sort of miraculous resolution.
But, it didn’t.
I recognized the issue after the French countryside began to transform into the urban suburbs of Paris. It wasn’t my teammate’s questions or personal pleas or explanation of God. They were perfect. It was the violin player. You see, he couldn’t or wouldn’t see himself clearly. Over and over, my teammate would nudge him to see his sinful state - a position necessary to grasp his need for a Savior. And over and over again, the violin player would say, “But, I’m a good guy. I don’t break the law. I don’t hurt people. I try to do what is right. I’m a good guy.”
And, so I began to think, how important is it to see yourself for who you truly are?
I was reminded of that question when I was reading Psalm 130 - specifically verse 3. I like the words of the NIV:
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
Who could stand? I know I can’t. I’d like to think I’m “good” because I try to do what is right, but reality is I know how often I mess up - whether it is choosing my way over God’s way or forgetting Him and His character. I’m sinful. I know it. I feel it deep in my bones.
I think that this can be a healthy perspective. When I recognize myself for what I am - someone who sins - I then look to Jesus. I realize in my sinful choices that there isn’t anything I can do to change things. I know He is the answer to my sin.
But, all too often, I try to precariously balance a mindset of “Jesus is the answer” on one side of the scales while still focusing on the mindset that “I am a terrible person” on the other. I re-live my poor choices. I stay focused on my negative emotions and worry about consequences. I condemn myself. I continue to see myself as my sin even as I try to seek Him.
And, that, dear friends, is a grave mistake. Because once we have chosen Jesus and His righteousness, then that is not how God sees me. And, that is not how God sees you.
Later in Psalm 130:7-8 (NASB), the Psalmist puts God’s perspective this way:
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
This word - lovingkindness (in other versions you’ll read “steadfast love,” “unfailing love,” etc.) is integral to how God views us. It comes from the Hebrew word Chêsêd. This word is used 246 times in the Old Testament to describe our Lord. It is mentioned 127 in the Psalms alone.
This lovingkindness of God is part of God’s core character. And, it’s meaning is so big it is hard for our human minds to grasp. I’ve heard it described as the “unexpected, undeserved, unconditional overzealous love of God.” It paints a picture of love that is also kind and merciful and graceful and beautiful and every other good word in the English language. And, this lovingkindness is directly tied to the forgiveness of our sins.
Basically, God doesn’t see us as our sin. He see us with this filter of lovingkindness.
Paul taps into that idea in Romans 8 verses 1-2:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
The truth is I am not stuck or condemned in my sin. Even though I have the tendency to label myself as a terrible person when I mess up, God doesn’t condemn me in my sin. In fact, He sent Jesus so there is no condemnation at all. And when I chose Him, my position changed. God doesn’t see me as sinful. He sees me through the righteousness of Jesus. And, He loves me unconditionally, regardless of what I have done or will do.
That has to change the way I see myself. I don’t have to beat myself up over and over again for my sinful choices. God’s lovingkindness gives me the grace to let that go.
Whenever I think about that violin player, my prayer is that he would see himself as he truly is - a man prone to sin in desperate need of a Savior. But, ultimately, my prayer doesn’t stop there. For him, for you, for myself, I pray we see ourselves free in Christ to be loved the only way God can love - big, full, overflowing, eternal.
But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-8, ESV)
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook