In the next two chapters Raymond focuses on those who have nothing to give and those who are weak before turning to those who still sin, people like you and me who have been saved by his grace but who still commit deeds that are so very rebellious and so very dark. “Run your finger across the pages of the Bible, and you find many examples to prove that God delights to lavish his forgiveness on sinners.
We are at an interesting point in history in which, when people look to the past, they seem more likely to cringe than to celebrate. It has become customary for people to look to their forbears and then disavow them or apologize for them in what has become almost a ritualistic purgation. There are many who are ashamed of their roots, ashamed of their family, embarrassed to admit who and where they have come from.
But isn’t it interesting that this is not the case with God? God has been adopting people into his family for thousands of years and along the way has welcomed many whose pasts are shady at best and scandalous at worst. And despite their sins, despite their scandals, he loves them and refuses to turn away from them. God’s enduring and unashamed love for his people is the subject of Erik Raymond’s new book He Is Not Ashamed.
If we were to assemble a great portrait of God’s family, “we’d find people with unflattering stories. Some are known as the chief of sinners, the sinful woman, the thief on the cross, and the prostitute. We’d also see those who were overlooked and disregarded by society. We’d find weak people unable to give God anything. We’d even see those who wore the uniform of opposition to God. Here in the portrait of grace, we’d find a multitude of misfits. It would be quite the picture.” It would be the kind of picture we might be embarrassed to hang on the walls of our homes. Yet in the very middle of this picture we’d find Jesus, the very best of men, standing side-by-side with some of the very worst. “At first glance, we might think that Jesus doesn’t belong with people like this. What business does majesty have with outcasts? But poring over the Scriptures, we see something else. In this family photo, Jesus may seem out of place, but in reality he’s exactly where he belongs. Even more, he’s right where he wants to be. Instead of being ashamed of them, he calls them family.”
In this book, Raymond examines the kind of people who would be included in this portrait which is to say, the kind of people God delights to identify with. And thankfully, “nobody has a story that can make Jesus blush” for his heart is oriented toward those who need him most, no matter what they may have done or how they may have sinned.