Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Big Lie

Ginx asked me to do a post on Christians who sin. He did so because some Christians wear expensive suits and this really irritates him. Because we Christians sin so persistently, one post just won’t do.

The first post in this series was: My Favourite Commandment

The second: My Favourite sin

The third I yam what I yam

While Ginx feels strongly about how much Christians spend on clothes, I personally think there is something far worse. We, as Christians, often perpetuate a lie.

The biggest sin, the most damaging sin that Christians perpetrate is the message that we can become good people, that we can live beyond the grasp of sin, that we can attain holiness this side of heaven. Thousands of books have been written and billions of dollars have been made telling people, Christian and non Christian alike that we can, if we “do God” just right, someday be free from the influence of sin and thereby be righteous people here on earth.

That’s why we are so surprised when Preachers fail. We mistakenly believe that Pastors must somehow be closer to perfection than we are. Why else would they be Pastors? How else could they be allowed to be Pastors?

I walk a fine line in counselling. On the one hand, I want people to know, that I know, “There but for the grace of God go I.” I want the clients to know that I don’t see myself as more spiritual than they. I’m just this guy with some training and experience who feels called to walk alongside those who are hurting. The problem with that is, people WANT to believe that some people CAN get it right. People want to believe that I’m better than they are in the area for which they are seeking help. They want to believe that if I can get it right then perhaps they too can get it right.

After all, why should someone come to me if I’m just as screwed up as they are?

If my clients understood the nature of sin, they would not be surprised at all that - yes I’m a marriage counsellor and - yes my wife rates our marriage at 9/10 - but I don’t always treat her the way I should. My insensitivity is not reserved to the blogsphere. If we understood the nature of sin, we would not be surprised at all when Pastors are caught with someone other than their wives, or when Christian business people succumb to greed, like buying expensive suits. In reality, I think that we don’t WANT to understand the nature of sin. We want to believe the lie of possible perfection because if perfection or “very good” is possible then:

We’re ALMOST there.

We’ve almost got it figured out.

We’re almost holy even as our Father in heaven is holy.

All it will take is:
Just one more rededication.

One more book.

One more really sincere prayer of repentance.

What a joke! And worse, the joke is on us. That’s why there is such outrage when very public Christians leave their marriages or are charged with fraud or ?. By falling into the grips of sin, the Singer or Politician or Evangelist is making the charade of perfection impossible to maintain for the rest of us. They’re making “us” look bad.

Can you see how wrong that is? Can you see how far from reality that is? In truth, we aren’t ALMOST close to anything resembling leaving sin behind. To believe otherwise, to present to the world otherwise is to set the teaching of Jesus up for ridicule. To present otherwise is to “give great opportunity to the enemies of the Lord to despise and blaspheme Him.”

Should we who follow Jesus be different? Should there be less sin in our lives as a result of following Jesus? Yes and yes. And in reality, there is less sin in our lives - NOT - than in other people’s lives necessarily, but less than before we met Jesus. I truly am a new creation in Christ Jesus. When I told a women who I went to highschool with about my life, and what I’ve been doing she replied, “You! But you were the worst one! Yes, Jesus does rescue from slavery to sin. Jesus does give us the option and the ability to resist a pattern of sinning, but sin is not and never will be absent from our lives and we’re fools if we think otherwise. Christian or non Christian, we’re fools if we think otherwise.


Ginx said...

... yet, the Bible calls for action and I always hear Christians going on about those they don't consider to be "true" or "real" Christians. If Christianity is nothing more than a matter of saving grace, I don't see much good in following the rules or their enforcement. I think there is some component of having to improve yourself, and those who don't believe so are weak and horrible people who would rather lie to themselves about what is expected from them.

I believe religion (or any ethical system) is one way of instructing people on how to behave properly. Christianity serves some function in this regard. It's not perfect, but it's better than allowing a child to do anything they want.

No one expects every Christian, or even every Christian leader or celebrity, to be a saint. Well... no reasonable people. What would be nice is if Christians aimed some of that shame inward and removed the board of wood from their own eye before pointing out the mote of dust in their neighbor's (especially if their neighbor wants nothing to do with Christianity).

Ginx said...

James Chapter 2 (as you mentioned in previous comments) is indeed one of my favorites. Besides reminding the believer to not favor the wealthy, verses 14-26 are particularly apropos to this post.