Trees do not live with the luxury of privacy. Almost everything that happens to them in their lives can be found in evidence on their bodies. This tree in particular had something injure it some time ago. Due to this injury it has healed itself by growing this scab over the injured area. Much in the same way our bodies create scabs to allow our skin to heal. However, unlike our skin, the tree never sheds the scab. It will stay there forever. Can you imagine what our bodies would look like in adulthood if we never lost our scabs in life?! That is the life for a tree. It holds onto them. So no matter when you encounter a tree, you can see that at some point in its life it was hurt. The wood that comes from these areas are no good for building. They are full of knots and the grain of the wood goes every which way. However, this wood is highly sought after by artists and craftsmen. The wood becomes highly unique with beautiful grain and color to work with. In some trees, the scarred portion becomes more highly valued than the wood used for lumber.

~It’s remarkable to think that the injured part of a tree
can become the most valued.~

Christ views us in much the same way. We are all born sinners. Every human will sin in their life, because that is who we are. This sin is what keeps us from experiencing pure joy, unashamed, full communion with God. It separates us from fully experiencing God. This is why Christ came. He took the pain of each sin upon his shoulders so we can know God and come to him boldly in our death, and even now in our life here on Earth. In my own walk with Christ and in my attempts to help others know him, I’ve found it interesting that the first step is getting ourselves to understand the first part. We are sinners. We fail daily. Our very existence has a tendency towards sin. If you don’t believe in original sin, have a child. When they are just barely starting to crawl, and they cant eat, sleep, dress or urinate on their own, but they head directly for that outlet cover you told them not to touch all the while watching to see what you will do. (true story) They are completely unable to function by any human standards, but they will have sin. Of course they still have the Spirit too, but the duality is still present even in infancy. We exist, therefore we have sin and that sin keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God.

Due to the fact that we live in a causative universe, our sin matters. Newton said it best when he marked the third law of nature with “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Everything we do and don’t do creates ripples of cause. My sin affects your life. Your sin affects mine. My deeds spread joy. Your deeds cause ripples of love. In our culture we like to believe we are autonomous. What I put into something should be proportional to what I get out of it. How hard I work should directly associate with how successful I am, but it’s just not true. We are not in control. My life affects yours, yours affects mine. If it was just me in the equation it still wouldn’t be true. I have no control over my environment. We don’t even get to pick where we are born. We simply live in a causative universe. What we do or don’t do matters to everyone around us, and what does and doesn’t happen in our environment matters to each of us.

What happens in our life, and the choices we’ve made, cause scars of our own. They are there, sometimes visible, sometimes not, but they are there. Occasionally physical, mostly emotional and spiritual. Do we allow them to be the valued part of ourselves? Or do we assume that because it was ugliness that caused it, it must be ugliness that came out of it? What about that tree? It healed and held onto that scar all its life, and developed into a highly valuable work of art. Can we let our scars be seen? Can we let them develop into beauty?

I think the ultimate sin into beauty story is that of Judas. Arguably the most despised man in the Bible due to his ultimate choice of betrayal. Judas, as one of the closest 12 had the greatest advantage to do the most harm. Only those closest to us can cut the deepest. Judas decides to do just that, for the hope of money and power in return. He does not come in with flaming swords and knives, but with a kiss. A kiss has the same line of cultural understanding in almost every culture. A kiss symbolizes affection, friendship, companionship, and love for the other person. Instead, Judas uses a kiss to signal the guards as to who Christ is and who to capture. It was the ultimate betrayal to use a sign of friendship as a signal for capture. This kiss is the beginning of the end for Christ. From that moment on he will experience nothing but suffering. The poetic nature is not lost on Christ either as he calls out Judas with: “You would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Can you feel the emotional knife in Christ’s back as Judas turns it? Just because Jesus knew this would happen doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. The depths of Judas’ betrayal will affect not just his relationship with the man of Christ, but his relationship with his God, and all of human history.

~Even through all of that,
Christ is the one that feels this betrayal the most,
from his friend.~

To be fair, Judas himself was deeply affected by his sin, eventually committing suicide. Even he was not unaffected by his sin.

BUT, true to the Christ we know, he will use even the deepest sin for good. Not because he has too, or controls the evil in us, but because he can. That kiss of betrayal became part of the resurrection story. The story that changed human history, that changed all of religion, and that has the power to change every person. The work of God that gives everyone the hope of a life with God in death and here on Earth today. The story that brought God into our hearts and hands forever. Only our God could use a sin so deep, to become so beautiful.

So it begs the question, what about us? When am I Judas’ kiss? When do our seemingly kind outward actions actually reveal a bitter, lonely, heart of betrayal? When do seeds of hatred get planted and out of it grows fear that we let ourselves act on? Can we be honest with ourselves and our world about our true motives?

And what about that kiss? Can we value Judas’ kiss? Not his motives, not his sin, not his actions. But can the scar from that betrayal be seen for its beauty after its healing? I in no way celebrate evil. I do not condone evil works for evil works sake. It was entirely Judas’ decision to do what he did. However, I do celebrate a God that can turn it into beauty, especially in my own soul. I celebrate a God that can see the end of my story. A God that values my scars because he sees the beauty being created, and shows his forgiveness in his redemption and healing.

~Our God is the artist,
yearning for us to let him use our scarred wood
to be his beautiful art. ~

Consider the Word

1 John 1:8-2:2 Sometimes the hardest part about being a Christian is looking in the mirror. Christ is constantly our mirror, so it’s really hard to look at perfection and not constantly feel unworthy. But the opposite is actually true. We must feel unworthy to know that we are worthy of his love. The righteous do not need a savior. We do. We must reach a point where we acknowledge the sin in ourselves so Christ can remove it.

Hebrews 4:16 Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for your sin. He allows us to come boldly before our God to receive what we truly need. Take your steps to the throne. Lay down your needs before your God. The door is open.

Judas’s betrayal:, Matthew 26:14-15, Matthew 26:47-56, Matthew 27:3-5, Mark 14:19-20, Mark 14:43-52, , Luke 22:47-53, John 18:1-11, John 12:4-6
Spend some time looking at the life of Judas and what he is remembered for. What stands out to you in these writings? What convicts you? Where do you see yourself in the story?

Isaiah 1:18 Is there anything more beautiful than that?

Questions and Reflections to Consider

-What are your scars? From infancy, childhood, teenage years, young adult years and so on? In each stage of your life, where did your scars come from?

-Have those scars been healed? Do they still show even if they have been healed? Do your actions manifest from the emotional or spiritual scars that were created?

-Can you see the beauty in your healing? Can you see yourself how God sees you? Spend some time asking God to show you how he sees you through his eyes. Take that identity with you as you go about the rest of your day.