Turning from Condemnation to Confession: Voicing the Gospel

cross.pngHateful words pour from all forms of media. I cringe.  Judgments pronounced; allegations made; fingers pointed, and sourced by many Christian voices. Why? Why do we let pride control us–prompting us to defend ourselves from the same judgments we’re so quick to cast on others?

This ugliness is a fraud.  Our defenses were useless long before now.  We’re trying to hide the fact that we’re in the wrong.  Well, let’s be honest, we are.  All of us contribute to the messes in this world.  None of us can innocently point the finger and cast the first stone.  Have we deceived ourselves so much that we can’t acknowledge our sinful state? Even that crowd long ago recognized their inadequacies when Jesus spoke regarding the adulterous woman’s condemnation.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her…At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time…” John 8:7b, 9a NIV

Such a sorrow this is.  We can’t get anywhere with judgement and name-calling.  That’s not the Gospel.  Christians, we know that!  We know that healing only comes when we confess our wrongdoings.  This comes from repentance and reconciliation. It leads to growth and restoration.  We’re saved by grace, because we are in fact in the wrong and can’t ever be or look good enough to change that state ourselves.  It’s only by confession and forgiveness in the work of Jesus Christ that we’re saved.

We need more confessional voices.  Honest humility.  I’ll start!  I am so quick to judge, compare, and evaluate.  I am more concerned for my interest–not others’.  I am more jealous than joyful for others.  I do not love well.  I am so easily distracted from pursuing God’s kingdom work.  But these sins don’t have victory; don’t have the final say.  I stand condemned but for Jesus!  He forgives me, and His Spirit enables me to grow in love and right conduct.  Daily humility and confession are the practices that make the way for transformation.  Let our voices be confessional not condemning.

Unexpected Christmas

This morning listening to Christmas carols, I was struck anew by Kari Jobe’s “Adore Him.”  We’ve grown up with the Christmas story.  It’s no surprise to us.  Of course, God had his Son born in a manger. Of course, shepherds came and saw him.  Of course, he wasn’t born in Herod’s palace… really, though, of course?

Jobe captures the true surprise this is in the first two verses of her carol:

Countless days on a journey that led so far
Endless nights they traveled to follow the star
They did not find a palace, just a humble village home
And searching for a king, but finding a child, no crown, no throne…

Expectation turned to mystery
For nothing was like anything they dreamed
Anticipating the royal and those honored by this world
Instead they gazed in the awestruck eyes of a lowly peasant girl…

Just think how quickly we feel hurt when we don’t get the recognition we deserve or when someone else gets the credit for something we did.  Here, the Creator of the universe came into the world and didn’t get any of the recognition a mere mortal prince receives.

Recently, I among my friends and family, babies have been or will imminently be born. In the anticipation, I have witnessed many people come together before the baby is even born to love him and give him gifts.  The celebration is natural, and everyone adores the baby.

nativityHow is it then, that the most special baby was visited by shepherds-the lowly-and foreigners?  Why, when the priests learned from the magi that their foretold messiah had come, they did not join the party to find him? Those that should have anticipated his coming the most had no share in the welcome.

How beautiful is our God?!  The scriptures are full of commendations to the humble, and our God exemplified that very characteristic.  The one due all glory clothed himself with humility.  His whole life is a testament to that.  All I can do is worship with gratitude–Thanks be to God!

Falling from Pride

Both through recent conversations and humbling experiences, I have grown aware of how much pride seeps into my thoughts, words, and actions.  Pride is one of the seven detestable sins.  It grieves God immensely.  The first sins, those of Adam and Eve as well as Satan himself, are rooted in pride.  How have I grown so numb to this poison eating away at my heart and soul?

Although through much of my early life self-esteem issues plagued me, somehow the misconception that I could do the best in everything if only I tried harder coexisted.  Driving to work the other day—when much of my pondering occurs—I realized that it was pride which prompted me to prove myself likeable or accomplished.  Now in this pursuit to come off as agreeable and capable, being better than others in order to be the best has not been my intention.  It is not about comparison for me.  Otherwise the issue of pride would have been apparent to me long ago.  Rather, it is a sense of redeeming myself in the eyes of others that in lies the problem of arrogance.  It is a rebuff to God to hint at self-reliance.  Falling right back into the sin of Adam and Eve, I act as though I can be like God in my own doing.  I imply that I can self-improve to perfection—to worthiness.

If I live as though I can earn worth in order to secure the ever so desired love and esteem that results from it, I sadly miss out. It is by recognizing my ineptitude and God’s great grace that I have full access to that love without being worthy.  That means the pursuit can be over.  I can bask in the goodness of God now.

The gospel doesn’t say “you’re good enough;” it says “you’re not good enough, but it’s okay because Jesus is.”

However, it takes great humility to accept it.  To say, “No I can’t ever be good enough; I won’t make it.  I will take your offered love just the same, undeservedly,” is immensely hard.  We are such a reward-based society, thus the difficultly in admitting we can attain something so good without deserving it.  If I bow thus in humility before God and accept his goodness in all things without ever achieving what I would deem excellent, then I can far more easily extend grace to others  I will be in the right position as servant to tell the world about the good news of Jesus—what a glorious thought!