Now I’m real, and really changing authentically. Part 2

This topic has definitely been one of discussion and debate. I for one have really loved the opportunity to put legs to my faith. I believe that this process, at least for my personality has allowed me to process what I profess to be true while comparing it to my life and actions.

It’s funny because ever since I posted 1 Year without God I feel like all I hear on TV and in church is about changing, being authentic and so on. It’s like when Danielle (my wife) and I decided to think about selling our Xterra for a VW Jetta TDI. I swear everywhere I looked amazingly good looking people were driving VW Jetta’s. Now I am one of them and it feels amazing. The fuel mileage is amazing as well.

Before I really get into the dirt of where my heart has been traveling with the debate of whether the world wants to see us really changed or just being real (it really is bigger then that I guess, you need to read 1 Year without God) I thought I would share a snippet from a book I have been reading.

“If you’ve ever felt too bad for God to use, you’re in good company. Isaiah had sin on his lips. That’s bad enough. But think of all the other substandard people God used. Sometimes the greatest were the ones who messed up the biggest. Moses murdered a man. Abraham was a liar. Jacob was a cheater. Rehab was a prostitute. David committed adultery. The apostle Paul even murdered Christians. And God used all of these mess-ups to do awesome things.”   Confessions of a Pastor – Craig Groeschel pg. 148

For the record, I am a complete mess-up. I realize that on my own I am capable of very little goodness. It’s not because I am necessarily a bad person (completely bad anyway), but because my nature is in itself, very selfish. I’ve already confessed that I have a thorn in my flesh that I fight daily. I think like most that have a struggle, lack of balance in an area or plainly said sin in their lives I am fairly good at convincing myself that it isn’t that bad.

When I was younger my parents had a pool table. We would play pool with friends and family and use it as a giant beer coster when my parents were away. For the most part I have great memories with the table. (I now have this table in my basement) One night I, as most older brothers do, made my middle brother very angry. My brother is the most mellow guy on earth, however if you wake the psychotic giant he called a temper you should do your best to evacuate the premises. So staring at my brother grabbing the pool cue as his face turned a shade of red only seen on valentines day I decided to run. I ran as fast as I could down the hallway into my bedroom. I slammed the door shut and put all of my weight against the door. Suddenly a the pool cue shot inches from my stomach through the door and my brother tried with all of his might to get the door open. He couldn’t as I had shut it. But I often think about the times when my friends and I played. Times when I would try to prevent them from getting into a room but was not able to close the door completely. Those times, with the door slightly open, I usually found myself smelling something I did not intend to smell.

Sin is a lot like that. See, I opened the door to to my fleshly thorn a long time ago. And now, because of that, I have to push with all of my might to keep that door closed. Depending on the day, desire, attitude and many other factors we hope the door stays closed.

I have been wrestling with this sin for a very long time. Because of this experience I tend to relate to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 when he said “8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Was Paul lazy? Maybe. Am I, for sure. Was Paul possessed by demon’s? No. Was there a spiritual battle? Perhaps, but with that in mind God’s response is interesting.

So, the idea of what the world needs from us…. I think it comes down to one idea. Authenticity. Being authentic in our faith does not mean we accept our sin, but that we admit to be sinners. As I said in the first post, being real is a cop out. Being real, meaning doing what you want does in no way make you real. It makes you real vulnerable. We need to get that who we are is not what we do!

I am a sinner. But I realize my thorn is sin. That is a huge thing. You see, in the cases my auntie discussed I suspect the men decided that their “real” things were not sin. And that is where it went horribly wrong. If they were authentic in who they are and more importantly, who their God is I suspect the outcome might have been different.

In Love Boat Captain I discussed Love. And you know, Love is really the route of this debate. If we Love God, and seek Him his grace is sufficient. If we love others, and are authentic to them, we will be loved back. Yes Uncle T, I hear what you are saying about trying to be attractive to the world however a huge part of our faith is about going out and sharing the gospel. If we are going to share God’s love, we must love, and be lovable. Authenticity is the gateway to acceptance. We’ve all met someone we thought was amazing. You leave the room going man, that person was so nice. So warm. They were so funny and so great. They make you feel like a million bucks. Well, I propose that if we can Love God, and others authentically, we will both become attractive to the world and more importantly; given the strength to fight our thorns.

Seek God, listen to His spirit and stop doing what you know is wrong (if you don’t know if it’s wrong, and can’t feel in your heart that it is read the Bible, ask your Pastor or a close friend). Easily said, but not done. I know because I’ve been authentic to you, and I’m still really struggling to get past my thorn! I’m not sure why we have them (an interesting perspective in the Corinthians verse), but I do know that it takes both God and ourselves to resist them. Stupid freewill.

Keep the faith. Relationships for the most part do not bring instantaneous change. Danielle could attest to that. So I think it’s fair to say that for the most part neither does our relationship with God. Can you expect immediate changes… Ya, I think (Saul to Paul), but for the most part we will change in process as we grow in Christ. So keep your heads up, fight the fight and rest in God’s word. Romans 12:2,3 . . . let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

LOVE everytime friends! Till next time.

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7 thoughts on “Now I’m real, and really changing authentically. Part 2

  1. I’m reading a book right now (“God Hides in Plain Sight”), and one of the things discussed is the Eucharist/Communion. (Simplistically) it discusses the dual nature of the sacrament: remembering both Jesus’ death and resurrection (suffering and hope).
    Here’s a quote:
    Many of us grew up in traditions where Communion was designed to make us feel guilty about how we didn’t measure up to Christ – in other words, where the focus was on our sin, and our distance from God. I think that’s pretty much the opposite of the point…. [Communion’s purpose, growing up] was to see how depressed we could get. But that put the focus on us, not on God…
    “When the focus is on God, we see the grace that has been there all along”.

    It’s an interesting book. My point in bringing it up is that whole idea of trying to manufacture our holiness. If we feel worse or concentrate harder or whatever, we’re successfully “earning God’s grace”. I think that’s both wrong and small. It pushes us into a preconceived mold. “Oh, good Christians do that… so that’s what I’ll do”. We totally miss out on what God’s doing. God’s grace is sufficient. That’s not a call to “go on sinning so that grace may increase” (see Romans 6). It’s the bloomin’ reminder to see God’s hand on and in your and everyone’s life. Maybe if we (I) weren’t (wasn’t) so self-centered, we’d be suffering and serving much like our Lord.

    Keep posting your thoughts…

  2. Evan, for a guy who just a few years ago bragged about how he’d never read a book, you certainly do write well. You should skip reading and just write books.
    In paragraph 5 where you speak about mostly being bad, this is understated. While it is a far cry from preaching the divinity within, the Bible teaches we are wholey bad. There is nothing good in us. How’s that for attractive? The only thing we can do is admit this and only admit this with the help of the Holy Spirit. CS Lewis and many others say that the gospel is an offense. We can’t talk our way around this. The Bible teaches that we (Christians) are the smell of death to those that are perishing and the fragrance of life to those who are being saved. While in my life I have found many Christian and non-Christian people to be attractive I doubt that this has much to do with them being changed. I don’t want to be unattractive to the lost but realize that I will be to those whom the Spirit has not called. We are commanded to love, rebuke, encourage, with great patience. Some of the characteristics are not attractive or fun. Our society right now teaches us to love the divinity within us i.e. Oprah. Christianity has started preaching a gospel of only the things we find attractive in God i.e. The Shack. The Shack is fiercely judgmental of anyone who endorses an out of date view of Christianity, whether it is biblical or not. We must not and cannot focus on only the aspects of God that we like and ignore other less attractive aspects. It says in the Bible (1 Cor 2) that the spiritual man makes judgments on all things. In 1 Cor 5 it tells us to judge the immoral brother in the sense of exercising church discipline and kicking him out of the church. Paul, showing redemption, allows him back in in 2 Cor. When the Bible speaks of judgment (Matt 7) it starts with the warning of not judging before we have checked our heart. And of course we don’t judge in the same sense that God does. In a world where our society doesn’t believe that they are sinners, but are taught that they have the truth and divinity within, we need to gently make them aware of who they are before Christ and let them know why they need a Saviour. We are commanded to do nothing less. We have been given a beautiful gospel of a Saviour who became sin for us. We must never undermine it by making us more than we are. It is wholey loving, wholey judgment and wholey biblical to lead those who are called to a Christ who accepts them into his family and loves them while yet they are sinners. As donkey says in Shrek “Only a true friend would be that honest.” May you judge my words biblically.

  3. Hey Ev, as mentioned last night, I’ve written another blog. Just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate your writing. This is seeming to be a big thing lately – everywhere I turn it’s coming up. To me a lot of it is just the process of trying to figure out what I should be, what the church should be… not that we’ll all ever agree completely, but we can still all learn from each other. Which is another reason that I enjoy your blog – you get great responses! How come you know so many smart people? 😉

    My latest blog could almost be described as my in-between what your saying and what Terry (by the way Terry, nice to meet you, I’m Vicki ;)) said here. Not that I address it all, but for me, I need to start at a certain point and say it all… so the rest of it will be coming.

    For, while I agree that the Bible says that we should correct people, I think need to have the love thing down before we get there. Otherwise we do WAY more damage than good.

    Anyway, any one who would like to is welcome to check out my blog and let me know your thoughts.

    http://victoriamiles.livejournal.com/2437.html

  4. Hey Evan

    Just thought I’d ring in for the first time. I doubt it’ll be our last. I like wnat you have to say. Keep it comming. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection myself these last few weeks on real change. I am chalenged by Jesus’ emphasis on the need for true change to start internally. That change brought about by mere behavior modification is an Old Covenant emphasis and not the kind of transformation he was promising. He speaks of “living water” that can only be received from him, springing up from inside us and then flowing out of us and affecting the world around us.

    My whole life I have tried so hard to be a better man and my efforts have been less than effective. I’m beginning to see that the change I desire must be a sovereign work of Jesus that starts internally and flows out into my actions. It’s not the result of me constraining my behavior in hopes that my heart will change with it. My confusion with this is trying to understand how Jesus changes me on the inside.

    Be forewarned, I may start to sound mildly charasmatic-ish in what I’m about to say. I’m becoming increasingly more and more convinced that the internal change comes from time spent in God’s presence. This might sound like silly, light weight, fluffy spirituality but I think it makes sence. If Jesus went through the mess of the cross just to make intimate relationship with us possible, if the Holy Spirit and his ministry of revealing Jesus to us is an objective reality (not just warm fuzzys mixed with an adrenaline rush), if the promise that God would write his law on our hearts is not a lie then there is only one conclusion to make. Somehow God changes our hearts as we commune with Jesus made possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

    Here’s the other mistake I’ve been making. I’ve treating Jesus like the means to an end. I’ve set up for myself a bunch of goals for my life. Some are about the kind of person I think I should be and relate to morality psycology and spirituality. Others are more external like having a good job with a good salary, good wife, a good family, a good house, a good retirement and top it off with a good death. Somewhere down the line I decided that serving Jesus would be the way to achieve my goals. I think this is why everything is a mess and might be at the route of this whole discussion. Though I won’t assume this is true for everyone I have concluded that it IS true for me. I have treated Jesus like he’s the salt that I’m gonna season my life with and he’ll make everything that much better. Jesus doesn’t want to help me with my goals he wants to replace them all with himself. All this time I’ve been treating him like the reletive I visit on weekends instead of the alpha and omega that he is. Matthew 6:33 gets thrown around a lot and can start to sound like nothing more than a sound bite but at the moment it’s cutting me really deep.

    Thanks for opening up the topic.

    Peace.

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