Something captures us in this story, these characters, and their theme song.
Oh, we’ve read it a thousand times, thanks to Disney. Beautiful princess is rescued by fair prince. No, wait! That’s not this story, these characters, or this theme.
This re-telling compels us because it’s an improbable love story; beautiful Belle, kind, caring, determined, compassionate, loyal, faithful and brave meets grisly Beast, gruff, angry, fearsome, loathsome, solitary and hiding. It captures us anew because she rescues him.
We listen to the flowing phrasing, melting voices, and honey-sweet harmony, even on popular radio, because we recognize this story.
It’s… Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
It’s… Bitter-sweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong.
It’s… Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme.
Beauty and the Beast.
We want to be the Beauty, but we are the Beast. What a moment it is when, even as beastly as we are, the beauty of Love transforms us. It’s a tale as old as time.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
Life would be so much simpler if everything were worth one point. Every good deed (+1). Every wrong word (-1). Every worship attendance (+1). Every devotional time (+1). Every evil thought (-1). Every angry “take that” response (-1). Every exasperated “it’s about time” (-1). Every “I can’t believe he…” (-1). Every “he can’t be trusted” (-1). Every…
Well, maybe it wouldn’t be simpler, but it would be much easier to quantify and see where we stand.
A book came out in 1992 called, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, by John Gray. Now it has the subtitle:”The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex.” I found it quite insightful about the different approaches men and women used as life strategies. Really quite telling about the dichotomy of the sexes. I remember reading it along with my friend Chris and she and I dumb-founded our husbands when we were in full agreement that yes, everything (they did for us) was worth one point. That was our operating principle. You get one point for giving the kids a bath. One for the dozen roses. One for nice jewelry and one for not leaving the toilet lid up. The guys had trouble with our math.
But I wonder how it works in the economy of God. It really doesn’t seem fair that “big sins,” you know the really heinous ones like murder and adultery and stealing, are in the same category with little white lies I told just to protect her feelings, and the minor theft of the office notepads that I needed to do mostly (okay, some) office work in my home office, and playing the online solitaire games and keeping up with Facebook and twitter? – that was simply a healthy distraction in my 14 hour work day over my 70 hour work week. Okay, these are transgressions, but really quite small. Give ’em a (-1), but then shouldn’t the big ones be (-100)?
Well, no. Break one – you break ’em all, according to the Bible. Everything is worth a point. Just like Chris and I agreed and applied to our husbands. Maybe we got this idea from the Big Guy. Our guys probably were just slower to get the message :). The thing is, the +1/-1 system seems like really good news if we’re guilty of “big stuff” and only receive -1’s . It’s a bit harder to swallow if we think we’ve been pretty good this year. Which is tricky because self-evaluation can be a very slippery business, especially when there’s a comparison group for validation. Hey – that’s just good science, right? Compared to the norm, I deserve the A grade.
But God doesn’t compare to the norm. Probably guffaws at the whole idea of a bell curve and a standard distribution when it comes to human behavior. We are the ones who get tangled up in the statistics. He has made it very simple. Everything is worth one point. I’m here at the Center; come to Me.
And Christ, the Binary King, graciously evens the scales when we look His way, nod in His direction, and ask His forgiveness. Look, nod and ask, all three. A ‘leaning in’ or an ‘intending to’ doesn’t get it. But the moment we voice it, we’re level at 0. New game.
We find this hard to believe because the earthly equation operates so differently: you count more. you count less. you don’t count at all.
Even if we do count by ones, we can bury ourselves by forgetting to pay attention to the signs. Was that + or -? Guess wrong and that’s a big shift in binary zone. No, we’re meant to attend to the details. Evaluating and decision-making are essential. Do we trust this? find this authoritative? does this sound right? speak truth? seem real?
But what a wise God to give us the binary system. If, in each decision, we keep checking with Him, keep confirming we have the right sign, we’re only ever one unit from center. Even when we commit the biggest mistake or are guilty of the biggest sin.
We have small, intimate Communion service on Wednesdays at my church. Something about taking time in the middle of my week to stop and remember the Why and the Whom behind what I do and who I am. I love taking communion. It’s so…bodily.
I found out today why we are really supposed to cup our hands to take Communion. It’s humble, yes. But the real reason is to do what my mother always did when she fed me something that might drip on her good rug, it’s so that when you dip your bread in the cup there is a hand underneath to catch the drip before it hits the carpet.
And then…you kneel at the rail. And you have the blood of your Savior on your hands.
What a tangible sense I had today of the guilt of my soul. “Your blood, Lord, is on my hands.” I cannot deny it. It was damp and sticky.
But it made my washroom experience truly a magnificent moment. “Child, I have washed away your sin. Go and sin no more.”
I am so grateful there is a Communion service every week.