This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #30.
Reference: Hosea 8:1-14
There’s probably a lot that could be taken out of this chapter, but there are a few lines that caught me off guard that I’d like to focus on.
The first one is verse 5, where God (speaking through Hosea) laments, “how long will they be incapable of innocence?” How interesting. God is making an incredible statement about human nature. He says that innocence (as we see in Genesis) is written SO DEEPLY into our identity that even after the Fall, we basically have to TRY to be anything but innocent.
Let that really sink in.
Innocence runs more deeply in human blood than sin.
Innocence—what we today perceive as weak, undesirable and even shameful—is the basis of love and one of the most fundamental building blocks of the entire universe. And it was very good. It IS very good. Through our Fall, through concupiscence (look it up), through all sorts of things, we’ve conditioned ourselves to reject one of the things that is most fundamental to our humanity and will be a critical part of our resurrected selves.
Why. Do. We. Do. That?!
Why do we undermine ourselves like that? Innocence is emphasized all over the Bible (faith like children, Christ as the innocent lamb, purity of heart, mind, and body, etc.), and you can bet there’s a reason for that.
Now, it’s important to clarify that innocence is something that we naturally lose a bit of as we grow up. (Believe me, I’ve read enough coming-of-age stories in English class to have that drilled into my head.) Perhaps we could argue that such natural waning of innocence is a result of the Fall (I would agree with that), and we could come up with many other reasons for it. But just because waning of innocence is a part of growing up doesn’t mean that we can’t retain any innocence. After all, the kind of innocence that God is talking about here isn’t just the let’s-watch-Elmo and where-do-babies-come-from kind of innocence. God doesn’t expect that out of these adults, though it’s very valuable as well. But even as adults we retain a sort of innocence that is fundamental to humans—the innocence that comes from being close to God. Sinning—that is, intentionally turning away from God—is what robs us of that innocence.
But the verse has built into it yet ANOTHER fascinating point: redemption. It’s not worded as “Darn it, they’re incapable of innocence.” It’s “HOW LONG will they be incapable of innocence?” We’ve wounded ourselves from our ability to react to that draw to innocence, but that draw EXISTS. Innocence is something we come back to. It’s a fundamental part of who we are—we are ever drawn to it. We can wound ourselves badly enough that we fail to notice or respond to that draw (part of this is concupiscence), but that draw exists nonetheless, and that is telling of a wonderful destiny we have. One day, we will make it back. We have natural desires towards what is pure, good, innocence, and beautiful.
We are made for innocence, we are drawn towards innocence, we are destined for innocence.
Two other quick notes:
- Verse 7 says, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” That just strikes me as a really cool image. Whatever you plant you will reap in surplus, good or bad. They plant danger and evil, they reap destruction.
- Verse 12 says (God speaking), “Though I write for him the multitude of my instructions, they are regarded as a strange thing.” In other words, God is making a comment about this very prophecy he’s providing. “I’M TELLING YOU EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO DO WHY ARE YOU NOT LISTENING.” Like seriously. If you’re looking for direction for someone, are there creds better than God’s creds? It’s just beautiful how like us God is, only far more perfect. His perfect frustration at our stubbornness, his perfect love to be patient with it anyway. God, you’re great.