“We are all sinners.”
Instead of being a desperate cry for God, this overused saying excuses our tragedy. It’s like telling someone they have a deadly (curable) disease… and then you walk away.
Journeying with Christ shows you more. The Spirit reveals to you things that might go unnoticed by others. You witness the tragedy in people’s hearts, even those closest to you — even godly people you trust and love dearly. In your own heart you see dark places, and you know others must see your tragedy too. We are all sinners, indeed.
And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. (Luke 19:41-42)
It brings me to tears seeing the misery and sin we all share. Still, I know I haven’t even scratched the surface. Even though the media thrives on bad news, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. How much atrocity occurs silently every day, over and over again, without anybody knowing about it?
Yesterday, we went to visit the prison where we coordinate a Bible study. As far as prisons go, this one is quite peaceful. But things are changing. The leader, or “servant” in one of the Christian pavilions was once a man who preached God’s word with passion. Christ used this leader to lift people out of the abyss of drugs and violence. But yesterday, I saw fear in his eyes. He’s become quiet. He prays less and isn’t reading his Bible much. Corruption has weaved it’s way into his pavilion. Now this servant of God is afraid of getting transferred to a nasty place far away or maybe even getting stabbed in the night.
I don’t need to go to a prison to see this. Selfishness, self-centered behavior, and cruelty are everywhere. In me, my family, and my church. It’s easy to play nice until you reach a limit, until you have to bleed. And yet, we do our best to do good. We have faith. If I begin to think about what goes on behind closed doors, at truck-stops, in war zones, in back alleys, and gutters where there is no faith… even as I write this I’m tempted to feel all is lost.
I could close my eyes and ignore it. Or shrug my shoulders and walk away. I might dive into a social cause and let that define my contribution. These are all plausible defenses.
What does my faith tell me? What does Jesus tell me?
“You’ve only scratched the surface.”
If I want to make a difference, I must go deeper. Even if it hurts. Even if I bleed.
If anything will confront the evil in and around us, it will be the Body of Christ. We are the Body.
Our structures are insecurities. We use doctrine as an excuse to withhold mercy. Is my faith a principle… or a person?
The darkness in this world is dense and nearly infinite. To deny this would be foolish at best — and acting as an accomplice at worst.
DIG DEEPER. Excavate down to bedrock. Then fill up the hole you’ve dug, pack the dirt down, firm, secure. Certain.
There’s a rumor going around that Christ is dead. This lie has been making its rounds for centuries. Yet God’s will marches forward. Where might I see his victory? Maybe if I…
– Swallow my pride, shut my mouth, and let God’s hand control.
– Fearlessly proclaim the Gospel, guided by the Spirit, be it in word or deed.
– Stand up for something when there is real risk to my reputation, livelihood, maybe even my life.
– Take a back seat, be the second when the Lord is fully using another to act or lead.
– Stay faithful to getting on my knees in prayer and feeding upon the Word of God.
– Finally hack out, ruthlessly, the things in my life I know offend God.
– Fully contemplate the tragedy of our sin — in all its shapes and horrors — yet come away fully confident, in the depths of my soul, that my Savior comes.
– Repent for my sins, the sins of my family, community, country, and the world.
If I can do these things — and join with the Body — others will witness and be saved.
And it will glorify the name of Christ Jesus, as all honor and glory are his since before time.
“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
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