Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sing for [His] Absolution

For years, I have shared an appreciation for progressive, electronic rock, particularly groups with unique blends mixed among multiple sounds and genres. Thus, it should be no surprise why Muse is one of my favorite bands of all-time, especially after hearing them open for U2 in Atlanta in 2009.

Flashing back to the concert's opening sequence, Muse pulled out a familiar hit – the cleanup song from their 2003 album, entitled, “Sing for Absolution”. As their classic echoes resonated through the stadium, lyrical beats began to stir a place of conviction: What kind of fabricated absolution has our culture defaulted to if we sincerely believe “our wrongs remain unrectified…our souls unexhumed?”

The more I pondered, the more questions poured in. What does real absolution look like and why do we live as if we lack a resolution for it? As if self-affliction is essential to change? As if setting relational limitations is sufficient enough to cover inadequacy?

Since then, I have repeatedly cross-examined this line of inquiry and have discovered how a) absolution is not only whole-hearted forgiveness - a release from shame and consequence, but also a blessing enriched by the releasing of greater purity and innonence back into the person and b) the irony of human emotion lies in its ability to rationalize the irrational and to replace silo for strong tower in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, such contrariety manifests itself the form of customized contrition.

Granted, to be human is to desire growth, and to be alive is to change, while valuing the process. Yet, in the vulnerable aftermath of imperfection, we can be so quick to limit our ceiling of maturation. For instance, when the past knocks, and life is nothing but a heartrending reality check, soulish solemnity can tow emotion past the point of godly sorrow, masking perfect grace behind a cry for what we already have.


Apart from holy reference, what makes us feel stronger in the moment leaves us weaker in the long run. And while it’s perfectly understandable to expedite change and capitalize on urgency during times of confrontation, emotional gravity can amplify both situation and struggle. Yet, the path to pathos is not what Paul encouraged the Corinthians to do concerning devout absolution. Instead, he promoted the fine qualities of recalibration: earnestness, zeal and indignation against sin. He urged the believer to merge justice with justification by pursuing everything necessary to make things right (2 Corinthians 7:11 – NLT). In this way, we proclaim the truth of our blamelessness.

But when the quicksands of grief find us, we hastily resort to guilt-laden gluttons, primed by the tendency to put the razor to the very place Christ took the nails. And even if the physical temptations elude, for many, the desire to mentally cut becomes very real. So as one absorbs a cold, hard truth or an emphatic mistreatment, flesh numbs the spirit, deceiving it to believe self-induced pain will accelerate change and purify pain. Ultimately, we buy into Oscar Wilde’s perspective by thinking "there is a luxury in self-reproach. [And by blaming] ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us.”
However, the voice of truth tells a different story: God-fearing absolution eradicates the need for self-protection and detainment and liberates us from confiding in any source apart from God. When we encounter emotional extremes and are in desperate need of a distraction, we don’t have to bleed to gain favor. We don’t have to chastise to inherit approval from loved ones or accusers. For where God is, there is freedom and unlimited forgiveness. And where Christ dwells, there is a move of His love that can be experienced when we surrender the knife and the DVR of our minds. Why not welcome divine absolution into your life, by placing confident trust in the Lord, remembering the greatness He has for you? Why not pray patient endurance to conquer the shadows of complacent hopelessness? Why not access the promise by believing and receiving it, as faithful ones, whose souls will be saved (Hebrews 10:35-39 NLT)?

Don’t accept self-punishment as an answer. For to self-punish is to hate oneself, and "hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimiated" (Hosea Ballou). Instead, embrace a new resolution by singing for [His] absolution…

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