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.