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Propitiation

I’ve spent a lot of the day writing. I’m writing a book about the complexities of Christian discipleship. It’s hard going; I’m finding myself challenged a lot by what I’m writing. One of the ways I learn is by teaching others. I usually have an ‘ah ha’ moment when I teach, or help others learn or master something. For example, when I teach my children how to paint, I get better at a technique myself. OK, so that’s rather simplistic, but I think you get the idea.

So, having spent a good portion of the day writing my book I didn’t really feel like writing my blog. But, then a scripture verse caught my eye: In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NKJV)

The word propitiation seemed new to me. So, I looked the verse up in the interlinear Bible to see what it says in the Greek translation – but it used the same word.

I suffer quite a lot of shame when I don’t know something, that I feel I should know – like words. I think that as I’m a writer I should be excellent at spelling, punctuation, grammar, and know more vocabulary than the average Joe. Well, I don’t! In fact, I left school with a reading age of a 7 year old. I was diagnosed as dyslexic. But, I seem to have been given a gracious gift of reading and writing in my 30’s. So, this all feels new to me. (I’m 34 if you don’t know). So, my ‘something new’ today is to learn what the word propitiation means.

In the dictionary it says that propitiation is the act of placating and overcoming distrust and animosity or the act of atoning for sin or wrongdoing (especially appeasing a deity).

Perhaps I could have figured that out! I wanted to know for sure though.

What interests me most is that the Greek translation seems to describe it as appeasing an angry God. I used to sit on the side of the fence that believed that God was a mean and angry God, ready to harshly punish us as soon as we disobeyed any of His 600+ rules. I’ve started to shift away from that, but I’m not quite sure that I’ve moved to the other side of the fence.

The best I can do is admit that I’m confused by this verse. What I don’t doubt is that God is love. As such, whatever side of the fence we sit on, we need to view passages, such as this, through the lens of Agape.

One of my favourite quotes at the moment is: ‘if in doubt, err on the side of Agape’. So, that’s what I’m going to do as I wait for further revelation over this and other such verses. It’s a lifelong journey of discipleship – one that’s very complex!

 

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