A Buttery Finish

God will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence.
2 Samuel 14:14
Some people can taste wine, and describe it as oaky with notes of pepper and vanilla and a buttery finish. Others might taste the same wine and simply say, "It tastes sweet." That's because most wine is complex, and the connoisseur can find things in it that the average person might not notice.

I think the Bible is a lot like this. Those who've been to seminary or who have been to lots of Bible studies might notice subtle themes that others don't. Because they know this character's early history, or a certain word in the original Hebrew or Greek, they can get into the depths of the scriptures.

Most others need to be hit over the head with what the Bible's trying to say. They haven't had the benefit of a seminary education or years of study. They don't know a word of Hebrew or Greek, and just can't memorize long passages. But they read the story of the woman at the well, and they want the living water as much as she does. They weep when they read the crucifixion and shout for joy at the news of the resurrection. They're amazed when Israel walks dry-shod through the sea, and they mourn with the exiles.

One theme in the Bible that I think a lot of people might think of as more of a hidden note than an obvious flavor is that of the outcast. But most stories in the Old Testament are about God's love for those who've been rejected, and the psalms are often either written by or about outcasts. Jesus himself is quite blatant in saying that his ministry is to those whom others shun. To hear his call, we must find our outcast nature, acknowledge it, and go to Christ for healing.

So let's quit pretending that God's love for the outcast is a bit of a bonus. It's the main message of the gospel.

The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
 Luke 5:30-32
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Deliver me, O God, from dependence on my own decency. Show me my sin, give me grace to admit it to you, and help me feel your forgiving love.
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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