People can be cruel. Though I like to believe that mankind is mostly good, that most people, in their heart of hearts, want to do the right thing, the truth is that not everyone IS good. In the first verse of this song, the soldiers aren’t content to do their regular, rather gruesome duties. Crucifying Christ would have been bad enough, but on top of that, they make fun of him by forcing him to wear a crown of thorns, by beating him, by giving him vinegar instead of water to drink. These are not nice men.
And yet, despite their flaws, despite the fact that they personally attacked him, Christ forgives them. Christ is surrounded by flawed beings–friends who betray him, sinners of every description, and of course his own killers–and his grace covers them all. No exceptions. No vengeance. No object lessons.
This is a lesson I learn and relearn again and again. I want to be good, but I keep failing and it makes me discouraged. I want to be self-sufficient in my growth, but the truth is, I need help. I look around me and I see people who seem to have it all together, and I feel out of place and down on myself and like the pursuit of perfection is pointless anyway.
One of my favorite scriptures is Psalms 22:9, “. . . none can keep alive his own soul.” I need that reminder: that it doesn’t make me weak to need help–it’s normal. What’s more, it’s vital. No one makes it through their life successfully unless they seek out support.
Similarly, I constantly need to remind myself that God’s grace knows no limits. I sometimes get caught up in the qualifications for various types of religious support, and I start to feel like only the mostly-already-righteous are given the strength and opportunities to move forward. But that’s not true. “No creature is so lowly, No sinner so depraved, But feels [God's] presence holy, And thru [his] love is saved.” God’s grace is for everyone who will accept it.
The hymn goes on to get excited about the future binding of Satan, and how we should express our thanks with love and praises. Since it’s a hymn, I guess that makes sense–it’s a song of praise and love, and it’s an attempt to be grateful. But I’ve also recently been reading The Life of Pi, and his thoughts on what really matter to God are still echoing through my head. I think what God would most appreciate is that we make use of his sacrifice, and look for some extra help. And maybe he would like for us to love each other a little better, as he would surely do in our place.