Friday, June 30, 2006

Victory in Jesus?

Here's a poignant statement about the weakness of sinners who Christ came to save. Being a minister myself, it's hard not to read the story discussed there and be deeply disturbed.

Christian culture encourages us to actively hide our foolishness because we’re the ones that are supposed to have all the answers. It makes us experts at covering up our own weaknesses so that other Christians will think we’re strong and unbelievers will know that we’re not sinners, like they are. And that, my friends, is an affront to the cross. When we do everything possible to convince both ourselves and others that we’re really decent, prudent, mature Christians who’ve basically got it all together, the inevitable result is that we not only not only reject God's Holy Spirit, but we deny our ongoing need as sinners for atonement, forgiveness and mediation. When our attempts to be thought strong, wise and noble become habitual, and we've successfully convinced ourselves of our maturity, the eventual result is a marginalizing and ostracizing those who are actually openly weak among us. We create a culture of fear so that openly admitting our weaknesses and foolishness becomes the scariest thing imaginable and appearing impenetrable is a desirable standard of holiness. And maybe our motives are good – we want unbelievers to see that Jesus really has changed us and we want other Christians to know that we really are saved and that we really do know God. But God is brutally honest about the fruit of wanting to be considered wise, strong and noble by others; and that fruit is precisely the mess we read about in stories like the one linked above. May He have mercy on us while we struggle to come to terms with the depth of our sin and the lying standards of perfection which so often nullify God's grace in Jesus.

8 comments:

Even So... said...

Words of wisdom from J.I. Packer:

Scripture tells us that God gives strength for three things: endurance of strain and pressure, fidelity in serving God and others, and resistance to Satanic wiles.

But, and this the crucial point to grasp, what I have just formulated only becomes reality when Christians feel too weak, mentally, morally, and spiritually, and maybe physically too, to rise to the demands of each situation. Then they extend the hand of faith to God as drowning men stretch for the lifebelt. “Help!” is prayer at is truest, as it is weakness at its most explicit. And it is a prayer that God answers!

What the world never understands and those who think that the good Christian feels strong and powerful and has life easy never understands is that only consciously weak souls ever lean hard enough on the Lord to stand steady or walk straight in his risen power. Weakness is the true path, the only healthy way.

TheBlueRaja said...

Wonderful quote - thanks JD.

Pastor Michael said...

Sobering.

Adam_Groza said...

Good post. I think evangelicals should get comfortable with the idea of admitting to unanswered questions without feeling the need to systematize away loose ends. Or perhaps even more difficult, having the freedom to admit that there is more than one viable way to do theology Christianly; living on the slippery slope...that sort of thing.

hebron said...

Phenomenal. Your a minister? Very rarely have I had a man in a position of spiritual authority ever admit any problems. They were always the paragon of virtue. As a matter of fact very seldom in my Christian walk of about twenty years has any one every mentioned anything other than bliss. You know the big smile and handshake and how are you as if nothing in the world was awry and they had no problems. I always thought I must be abnormal, they are all happy in Jesus and have a perfect life. Why am I struggling. About three years ago admist profound pain........I realized that brokeness is the key to a real powerful walk. Just like the few loaves of bread and a couple of fish......Jesus blessed, broke it and then passed it out to the thousands. Brokeness is the method by which God feeds others. I have since lead with my weakness and struggle and everyone can relate to that. One man after I just said that I was not in the Promised Land yet and still felt like I was in the dessert....started crying and telling me that his brother had recently committed suicide and was struggling. I felt God honored my honesty and being real. Why had I pretended all these years? That is the game. I caught your name and comment on Jesus Creed. I loved your post. Thanks

TheBlueRaja said...

Michael,

Truly.

Adam,

Hey buddy! I of course agree. Thanks!

Hebron,

I am a minsiter. Thanks so much for sharing that - very encouraging.

Lobezno said...

Sharad,

I began teaching last Sunday on perseverance in the book of Hebrews. Your post encouraged me to start off by confessing some of my own sins to the church and actually having some respond in like manner. Thanks for encouraging me to be weak before the people of God.

Joshua

TheBlueRaja said...

Joshua,

I'm so glad! People really do think that teachers have it all together - hebron's comments are representative of what I've heard from so many while preaching on this topic. I hope you get some people to really open up to one another.