Monday, June 6, 2016

Ramadan Scales

...Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.  Hebrews 9: 22b

I have an aversion to stepping on bathroom scales. Sounds crazy, but I view them more as an enemy than a friend. I want the pounds to look good, not bad. So, sometimes, I just avoid or ignore them and they collect dust. And yes, I have to admit it, there is a slight fear of them. When I go for my annual physical exam I groan as I step on those tall looming scales and the nurse adjusts the weights and then records the number. Does it have to be recorded? Strange how we are so interested in knowing the exact weight of a newborn but as we age we don’t always want to know the number. When we are sick weight gain or loss is pretty significant. Yes, scales reveal a lot.

There is another set of scales that can evoke emotions in people. When I mention the word mezan to my Muslim friends it is almost like I can detect a shudder. Most of them would like to ignore the mezan but can’t. Sadia said to me, “Joy, everything we do – fasting, praying, acts of charity – are for the next life, not this life. You should not think that it is for this life. No, it is for the next life.” I could almost visualize a picture of the mezan staring her in the face creating panic and fear. Khalida proudly told me that she fasted six extra days this year. "Because of the mezan?" I inquired. "Yes," she replied. According to Muslims Allah has a set of scales on which their good deeds and bad deeds are weighed. On the final day of judgment the verdict of their eternal destiny will be decided according to the measurements of their good and bad deeds. How my heart aches for my Muslim friends. I can’t imagine living with that terrifying prospect. A record or hisab is kept by Allah. It is up to them to make sure their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. And then they wait to find out and hope for the best and hang on to the belief that Allah is merciful. But they are never free from uncertainty and fear.

The good news is that Jesus Christ has removed the bad deeds from my life and placed them on Himself on the cross. He has taken the burden of keeping hisab off of me. My bad deeds are not being weighed on a mezan anymore. The mezan is empty. The mezan is gone. My sins have been lifted away, not by fasting, suffering, or doing good deeds, but by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. What a wonderful Savior we have! He is full of grace and mercy and love. He loves good people and bad people. Yes, even bad people. Forgiveness of my sins is a gift - not something I work for. He knows our good deeds can never cancel out our bad deeds. He knows that our good deeds can never measure up to His righteousness and holiness. He bears our bad deeds or sins and then He graciously clothes us with His own goodness. What a gift!

Ask your friend over Ramadan what the mezan means to her.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You that You see us without a mezan. In Jesus’ name, Amen.