April 10, 2020

Thoughts After Doing the Math

I’m not very good at math, and I’m worse at being a Jesus follower, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

I starting doing some personal math this morning as I started my day, and I made a discovery.

I could no longer deny that a lot of things add up in my life; they add up to an area where sin has taken a deep root.

The last few months, I keep bumping into the same kind of feedback in my immediate environment from people who know me and observe me. When I first heard it, I was angry and defensive. I should know right away that defensive is a signal all is not well.

That feedback may not have been flawless, but I’m not convinced some of it is true.

A number of relationships changed, and I blamed the other persons. I’m not “unblaming” them entirely now, but I see something I didn’t see before.

I began to notice the interactions I had with other people, and I discerned some patterns. Not random patterns, but intentional patterns. There was something THERE that people were moving around; something that was playing a big role in those interactions. Something that was part of me.

I began to look at the places where my life was going well, and was surprised to find many areas where this kind of sin would be rewarded.

I looked at my ministry, and I saw that this sin serves me pragmatically and allows me to be an effective leader, especially in some aspects of my particular situation.

My personality isn’t always the clearest picture to me, but it became clearer. The established patterns of my life began to show me a kind of person and a pattern of behavior, all held together by the sin that was being revealed to me.

I thought back on my life history, and considered where this sin began to be part of my life and why; I traced its impact from the past to the present.

I began to understand the common thread that held together many separate strands in my life experience: I was protecting a pattern and preference for a sin that I believed defined my life.

Life in Jesus is a life of repentance, but I come from a tradition where sin is always behavior. Doing bad things. Sinning against the example of righteousness. The sins that arise from the components of our own personality- the acceptable, even valued ones- are much deeper to repent of. Some even applaud and reward certain patterns of sin.

How do you repent of what is making your life work?

How do you repent of what people expect you to do and be?

How do you repent of your self-image, your security and your identity?

How do you repent of sins that have grown essential to your being and life?

How do you repent of sins that the very repentance of them will cause you to lose support and encouragement?

When I do the math, when I put on the special glasses of Gospel realism, I see a disease and a man in denial. I see a sin addict in need of a group. I see a person whose engagement in sin and life in ministry are deeply entwined.

Christ forgives. Sin is defeated. We are part of the new creation. But my sin hasn’t left quietly. It’s convinced me that without it, I’m too vulnerable to do without it.

Christ showed me these things. Jesus showed me because he wants to be my security, my identity, my everything. He does not beat me down over this situation, but invites me into repentance in love, kindness and compassion. The wounds of Jesus are to change this situation and to change me. But I need community, because this is a fearful revelation. I wonder what life would be like on the other side of a pattern of living that has become identical with being Michael Spencer.

But that’s the journey with Jesus. That’s the narrow path, the treasure in the field, the dying all day long. It’s the only place to go because he has the words of eternal life.

But I need a community. Maybe you do too.

Comments

  1. Community.

    Christians.. Followers and Imitators of Christ..

    We see but do not condone sin, we must therefore be able too reject the sin but love the sinner, and if they would not repent (Change) of their sin, love but also keep them at arms length…

    However what we do when we ARE repenting and the community we seek love and forgiveness from seem to reject us??

    Well, if we are repenting and confessing our sins…and that community isn’t helping to heal us and bring us home to Jesus. How close really are they to Him?

    I do not mean that as a bash against anyone, it is not our place to judge, but we know people by their fruits.

    I had some deeeeep sins myself, and while my mothr isn’t the biggest “Bible word slinger” in the world, she did know Christ, and did show His Love. My Grandmother also.

    Sometimes we shun others sins because of how dark our own are, in that illusion of being able to hide those sins from God, Or the idea that if we were really believers we would already be perfect..

    I didn’t mean to start a lecture, myself when I was young I struggled with self image, my mother had once said she wanted a girl, you guessed it, with abusive step fathers and a mother that seemed to want a girl I ran into effeminate behavior fast time.

    But God showed me where and how that was wrong, led me to find good men in life as positive role models, and finally though I WAS CERTAIN God may just may answer my prayer and one day wake up to be the daughter my mom wanted (yeah we people can get pretty messed up)….finally God helped me to be the Man He wanted me to be.

    I only share as a show of weakness, if you can be trusted as a community of Loving believers, you can either relate to some absurd sin in your own life, or at least put aside Judgement and say WOW look what God did for that poor deluded guy 🙂

    I met a friend many years later, who struggled with his homosexuality, God had His hand on me, I would say honestly even if I was never saved, I was used to help this one man, and that is a good enough kinda deal for me, (I am happy to serve in Love,….I guess that shows something similar to maturity) and I believe I am saved. (with alot of maturity yet to gain)

    …. He is now married (To a Fine woman) and living a positive Christian Life…(Glory to God) I was a messenger and probably a poor one.

    But God’s Love, not my judgement showed to the man to change His life…

    Oh did I mention I was molested at about age 10 by a neighboor who was a homosexual? It would have been real easy to harbor hate instead of Love.

    My step fathers were abusive Alchoholics, I pray for them, we are ..if not friends, at least on speaking terms, I would love more but both of them need Christ in their lives yet, so we can have Community 🙂

    God took a very fragile heart, mine, and said Love instead of Hate.

    I believed it hook line and sinker!!! … Glad I did, because no matter what false teaching, no matter what ignorant bias I had later in life to Come….

    Love instead of fear, Love instead of Hate (for people, we are supposed to Hate evil of course)….

    Love, the Kind of God who loves us enough to Send our Savior in our place, the kind of Savior who loves God the Father enough to Die for Us, and Honor the Fathers Love for us??

    Yeah, I KNOW they Love me, I know I am not forgotten.

    But that promise wasn’t for me alone…no matter how aloof I become, no matter how “Selfish” not “Personal” I make my faith, I know its not mine alone..

    We are to grow together in Christ to Fullness….Jesus prayed for us to be ONE as He and the Father were one……

    Do you Love me?

    Do you Feel my Pain?

    if I tell you about my grandmother who was so splendid a person dying 4 years ago you can feel my pain perhaps you can hear me?

    Don’t take me wrong, I am ok and God is sufficient.

    But He didn’t say Get up here in Heaven now and don’t worry about OTHERS.

    He said, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, by this you show you know me..(paraphrase)

    Do you love God? then you have to love me. 🙂 its the Rule.

    I love you though I know you not, I can because Jesus does, even if I were mute He would sing of His love for you in my heart, I would eventually break if I didn’t bend :), I have a heart of flesh thanks to Him.

    WARNING, I will make mistakes, simple minded human assumptions, off topic comments, and otherwise less than perfect statements….I am sorry in advance and will work very hard not too, Please correct me when I am wrong, encourage me when I am right, Praise God for when I accomplish Good.

    But forgive me, forget my sins against you cause if I am really sorry, I am changing my ways. not just saying “sorry”. meaning yes I may once again betray trust, but not out of intention…out of weakness…isn’t that why we are here…

    Support not for OUR weaknesses, but for US through them…

    Give me some credit, have some faith in me……God did. Faith in Me, and Faith in You.

    Repay that by having Faith in Him and Loving one another.

    Right?