One of the ways in that my wife and I are different has to do with blankets. My wife is almost always warm when she sleeps, so typically a comforter is all she wants to sleep with. I, on the other hand, am perpetually cold when I sleep, so to me, the more blankets the better. This makes for a rather funny appearance, particularly in the wintertime, as I have stacks of blankets on my side of the bed and she has at most a single blanket on top of her side. We have a picture from when we lived back in Maryland of me with either 19 or 22 layers of blankets on my side of the bed. Some people may consider that a bit excessive; I suppose that they have a right to their opinion. In my opinion, blankets are not only there to keep you snug, but they are also a sign of God’s grace.
One of the Hebrew words that is translated as “atonement” is the term rDpA;k (caphar—ironically, it even sounds a little like the word “cover”), which means to cover over. Atonement, of course, is a gift of God’s grace whereby our sins are covered over by the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ and thus we have been restored to a right relationship with God and with his Law. The idea of covering also reflects a picture of the righteousness of Christ being draped across us as new garments, not the filthy garments of our own labors.
As Christians, we do more than simply affirm the atonement as a doctrine, it is the source of our hope! The very fact that when we stand before an almighty God and he asks us why he should allow us to enter his heaven, we do not need to appeal to our own messed up works, be can cry out— “It is because of the blood of Christ! He has saved me and brought me to you! He is my righteousness and I am trusting in his promise alone!” It is because of Jesus’ work of atonement that we can find joy in this life because without it, all we would have to look forward to is judgment and eternal destruction.
Now, granted, we may not find hope and joy in the blankets we use on the bed on a cold night (okay, I even put blankets on the bed on a warm night…), but we do draw comfort from out blankets. I imagine Linus, from the Peanuts cartoon, walking along, dragging that blanket and clinging to it for dear life. For Linus, the blanket represents safety from the terrifying things of this world. Ironically, Snoopy (aren’t dogs supposed to be man’s best friend) is always trying to swipe the blanket from him. Isn’t it interesting how our modern, liberal, Bible-doubting, politically-correct society is always trying to reject or fictionalize doctrines like the atonement, thus trying to rob the church of its security blanket.
Oftentimes, in our modern society, we speak of security blankets as things that provide a kind of false comfort. Linus’ blanket can protect him from no real harm. At the same time, that is not the kind of security that a blanket is supposed to bring. It brings security from being left alone and a security from the cold; it is Linus’ assurance that he will find comfort even in the midst of his failures. The blanket of covering from the Atonement does much the same thing for us today. It cannot protect us from someone who will try and take our money or our job, but it is something that reminds us that we will never be abandoned by Christ (he paid too great a price for us than that!) and that will bring us comfort from that cold and calculating world in which we have been called to live and suffer in faith.
When I curl up under my 20 layers of covers on a cold winter night (okay, yes, I live in Florida), I confess to you that my first thought is not always of the Atonement. At the same time, when I think of the atonement, I do think about my covers and how nice it is that I am held by a God who will never leave nor forsake me and no matter what trials I may need to face, I am held secure and in eternal safety. Such is a blanket that can never be taken away.