River of Forgiveness

This week’s Gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31) is one of the most solemn of all of Jesus’ parables. One of the central themes of this story is to bring home to Jesus’ hearers the blinding power of selfishness. Selfishness — self-centeredness — is one of the most basic and most dangerous sins we encounter because we commit the sin of selfishness by simply doing nothing. Like the rich man in the parable, we forget others and treat them as if they don’t exist. The poor, the outcast and even members of our own family don’t concern us in our drive to satisfy our own needs. We forge ahead in our own little world in benign indifference to those around us. This attitude of neglect can ruin our spirit, and degrade and, ultimately, dehumanize us. This parable contains an unmistakable warning that a terrible doom awaits the selfish person. Remember, the sin of the rich man was not that he did wrong things, but that he did nothing. The potential for this toxic sin of indifference is in all of us, but God has provided an anti-toxin and it is free!

Just the other day, I heard a great description of this anti-toxin in a song by the bluegrass band The Steel Drivers called “River of Forgiveness:” 

There’s a River of Forgiveness
And it’s running deep and wide
Waiting for the sinner to wade into the cleansing tide
The sacrifice, the awful price was paid with perfect love
There’s a River of Forgiveness Flowing with my Savior’s blood

Can’t you feel the Spirit moving, it’s brought you this far before,
But you won’t receive salvation on this side of the shore
Don’t fear the water’s current
Don’t stand there in your tracks
Trust the voice that led you here
Step in and don’t look back.        

If I can be forgiven for the sinful things I’ve done,
My God’s grace and mercy can cover anyone.
He took the blackest heart that ever beat and washed it clean.
Just have faith, a pardon waits in that crimson stream.

Oh, the sacrifice, the awful price was paid with perfect love.
There’s a River of Forgiveness Flowing with my Savior’s blood.

This anti-toxin to the sin of indifference (and every other sin) awaits you each Sunday at the Lord’s table. I hope to see you there.
The Rev. John R. Bentley, Jr.
Pastoral Associate
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