Saturday, September 04, 2010

"Are we willing to keep coming back to God for help in getting the spiritual character enhancement we need?"

This should be a question that every Christian faces every single day, hard as it is. It appears in today's installment of Our Daily Bread.

Martin Luther said that the life style of a Christian grateful for the free gift of salvation in Christ, is "daily repentance and renewal." Pursuing this life style--a life of pursuing Jesus, really--requires a courage and an honesty that only God can provide to us. But each day, we need to be willing to pray with the psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

But be warned that if you pray that prayer and mean it, and aren't just mouthing pious words you've been taught, God will show you your sins. God will show you your character deficiencies. God will show you the ways in which you need to align your heart, your will, and your actions with God. The simple fact of the matter is that if God and you disagree about whether you've sinned or even about what constitutes a sin, God is not the One Who needs to have a change of mind. God has made clear what is right and what is wrong, putting it all in black and white on the pages of Scripture, no matter how many fancy theological end runs we might try to pull to elude the truth.

But God will never show us our sins and deficiencies--as I experience God doing with me every day--out of malice or spite. God doesn't want you to feel like a worm.

When we ask God to tell us about the wicked ways that are in us, we really ask God to let us see our actual selves, stripped of the masks that we put on to fool other people, to fool God, and to fool even ourselves. It's only when God helps us get real with Him in this way that we understand how desperately we need Jesus Christ.

Vulnerability before God and confession of the sins of which God makes us aware when we are honest before God, will allow us not just to ask God for forgiveness, but also open the way for God to give us the power to combat our faults, to live in different ways, to be reconciled with those we may be hurting, to walk away from the sins that we, in our own power and under our own self-driven reasoning, find irresistible.

"Are we willing to keep coming back to God for help in getting the spiritual character enhancement we need?" If we can answer, "Yes," to that question, even if the size of our affirmation is that of a small mustard seed and no matter how incapable we are of resisting the sins to which we are oriented, we will be well on the road to wholeness, to life with God, to becoming the people God originally intended for us to be.

Jesus Christ, the only one given under heaven through which we can be saved from sin and death and ourselves, makes this possible for all who are willing to turn from the world's futile ways and trust in Him alone.


Here's the New Testament verses on which today's Our Daily Bread devotional is based:
Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24)

No comments: