Monday, December 20, 2010
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).And folks, it's going to hurt.
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.
I view being a Christian a lot like having a long, extended series of surgeries. The surgery hurts, it requires enormous effort for recovery, and perseverance to show up for the next one. Post-surgical therapy is sheer effort. But the results are a blessing.
I have had surgery where the doctor did not tell me fully in advance how long the recovery period would be, or my expectations were too optimistic. When I reached the point where I thought I was supposed to be 100% and I was not - I was pretty angry with the doctor.
We are often less than honest with people when we invite them to Christ. We make them think they simple take the sinners prayer pill and step into loveliness. What;s said is when they reach that point on anger - they just leave, they chuck it all and decide it was a lie.
The theology on the fate of such people is an open question to me, but what is not is that they will spend the rest of their lives calling the church a liar - and that steals glory from God's body here on earth. It harms God's name - and all because we promised wrong. We were in such a hurry to "close the deal" that we oversold.
Faith in Christ is the best thing that can happen to anyone. But the process of realizing that promise is surgery, not a pill. We need to be honest about that.