Monday, October 17, 2005

Recapturing Our Sin

Speaking from a Christian perspective: I am finding the need to recapture the understanding of the meaning and devastation created by the sin of mankind. I go to church and hear these types of statements "it is only the blood of Jesus that forgives us", "what can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus", "we have to call sin sin and not compromise to the world in our preaching." Those are great things to say, sing and think, but without taking time to reflect on the true meaning and consequences of sin they are empty words. Too often I hear words without the depth of reflection. I can't remember the last time someone preached a sermon about the depth of mankind’s sinful depravity. For this I think there are few reasons which do have some merit.
First, the objection by so many to a sharp edged sermon on sin is the fact that people will claim "we have been set free from sin", "we are washed in the blood of Christ, our sin is gone". Which is true of all the sins for which we have repented of, but what about the sins we find ourselves stumbling into everyday since we believed in Christ?

What about the doctrine of progressive sanctification? I would rebut that while all of the previous comments about the forgiveness of God through Christ are valid, I think most people don't want to be reminded of their depravity, previously or currently, and this is a good way to avoid having the conversation. All people get good at avoiding situations that are uncomfortable. We all want to think of ourselves as good people. But, we are not good people and that is why Christ, Fully man and Full God had to sacrificially die a vicarious death for all of mankind of to have any hope of restoration of full relationship with our Creator.

I have come to think that recapturing the understanding of the incredible depth of our depravity b/c of sin is a very good thing. When we stop to remember how bad we have been and how much more we need to be changed by the power of God it makes God's grace and forgiveness come fully into the light of Truth. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were still "sinners", literally translated it means God Haters, God commended His love toward us and sent Christ to die for us. Amazing Grace! That is some kind of love. Even with all of my sins after believing in Christ as Lord and Savior I still have assurance that he is with me, to change me not to overlook my yet existent sins. I must acknowledge to Him how depraved I am. How weak my faith is. How unworthy I am of any of His attention or care.

In this state I see myself for who I am and who God really is. “What is man that you should be mindful of him?” The answer from a just, merciful, and graceful God seems to be this, “Man is my creation, made in My image, a reflection of Myself.”

Remembering our sinful depravity only makes the goodness of God shine brighter and an ever darkening world. Reflecting on how much forgiveness God has had on your soul. Then try not to praise Him.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Selfish Blessings

Blessings from God are not to make us happy. Well, at least that is not to be there primary goal. However, it sure seems like when I pray or others pray for each other that we ask God "to bless us" which seems like a great thing to ask. I wonder though if the under current of that prayer is not some thing more like this, "Lord I want you to make me happy and comfortable and to make sure that nothing goes wrong in my life or the lives of my friends and family."

Now this is not a bad thing to want in itself, but too often Christian are so theological weak that they equate trials and tribulations with judgment from God. There is an old saying that attempts to answer those thoughts like this, "God is good, you are bad, now stop it." Is this not what Job's friends told him and incidentally were only saved from God's wrath b/c of the intercession of Job?

So really, I think I have this right before God, when we pray we should ask God to bless us according to His will for our lives as they are lived to fulfill the kingdom of God. No matter what comes we know we are living for the glory of God. Whether we are persecuted and imprisoned or have all the finest things on earth of our entire existence in the flesh we can know that we have the blessing of God.

As examples I think of John the Baptist, Paul and of course Christ himself. When they faced hard times, even death, they never wrote "woe is me God has abandoned me." No they kept their focus on the higher life, that of eternity. That is where the never ending blessing is, that is the finish line, that is the land of true blessing. This, here and now, is not the land of blessing. This is not the promised land, we have to cross the Jordan, whether that is the return of the Lord or death, we have not yet reached the land of blessing. So when you pray don't pray for good things to come your way, pray that you will be able to build the kingdom of God on Earth and reflected his love and goodness to all you see and all who hear of you. I call this living for the higher life.

Keep the end in mind. Live not for blessing on this Earth live for blessing in eternity.
"Live such a good life among the pagans that they may see your good deeds and praise your father who is in Heaven." - Mt 5:16
"For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." - Rom 8:18