Imagine for a moment, if you could, a world where every person pays the full penalty for their errors. Criminals serve the maximum prison term and cheaters abide in the solitude of vacated homes. Men are publically disgraced for their fleshly failures, and liars find ruin wherever they turn. Justice is served.
Some days I reflect on a graceless existence, where the ripple of my stupidity comes to full fruition. It reminds me of a concept in quantum physics. Because of quantum behavior, some people suggest that multiple worlds (or parallel dimensions) exist, and that every time our life comes to a crossroads, another dimension plays out the other alternative. This sounds like science fiction; nevertheless it causes me to shudder at the imagined timeline where I don’t experience the sweet redemption of mercy. Thank God for my pardon.
In this season of recovery, I am often taken aback by the mercy that’s been bestowed upon me. I deserve solitude, abandonment and public shame. This could have ended so many ways, and many of my potential destinations would have meant lasting misery and punishment. We take for granted the many times that we are spared from the practical consequences of our sins.
Several months ago, Hannah and I reached out to a counselor to help us with our healing, and we were baffled by the attitude of the person who was supposedly there to assist us. They abrasively pushed forth the notion that all sins are equal, and that I was no different than the neighborhood gossip or the busybody down the road. In this moment, the misguided counselor was ignoring the real weight of my actions.
Our mistakes carry both eternal and temporal relevance, and they bring forth consequences in both realms. Christ has died to relieve us of the crushing burden of the eternal costs, to be sure, but He does not always spare us of our earthly debts. Just because a criminal accepts Christ does not pardon him from his prison sentencing. Although sins may be equal in their capacity to separate us from our heavenly Father, their real-world implications vary greatly.
Acknowledging this truth brings me to my knees once again, humbled by the understanding that I have been spared from a variety of terrible outcomes. Thank God for my pardon.