Friday, January 23, 2009

somewhere on the outskirts of hope

When I was younger and a bit more zealous, it seemed that everything about Christianity was true all the time - that nothing could ever possibly be false. Even thinking that there could be any flaw or untruth was an abomination, and one that would be harshly reprimanded or met with a stern call to “have more faith.” With the sharp edge of zeal unfortunately dulled, a new perspective has surfaced – one that, until recently, I was uncomfortable to see. I have never doubted that I am a believer, the days of “rededication” far gone and replaced by the knowledge that I have been chosen by God without any way to run far enough from His grasp. Still, there are times when it seems that it just can’t be true. That there is no way I can’t do something, anything, to earn favor.

Honestly, it has been almost four years since I’ve really “walked with God” – having regular times of Word study and prayer, which is somehow what the Christian life has been reduced to. In a way, it has been a relief to see that even without those things, I am still deeply loved and my standing does not change with a lack of discipline, and that even despite my lack of devotion I can still see areas of my life where I have become more spiritually mature. Certainly this is not the best plan, and spending long stretches of time without talking to God or reading the Word surely has its effects on the spirit. Sin creeps in much more easily, and believing the implications of truth as it applies to specific life situations becomes a near impossibility. But I am weary of being deceived into believing, with maddening consistency, that the degree to which I am loved and accepted by God is directly related to the amount of time spent studying the Bible or praying. It is simply not true. And that is what I have believed for the past four years … that I am less of a Christian because I haven’t been doing those things. Again, I know that they are beneficial to the life of a believer. But to believe that I can somehow add to the finished work of Christ is a dangerous untruth, and one that I will surely fight until the day I die.

I am thankful to be a part of a church that embraces doubt and uncertainty, and doesn’t consider those things unforgivable. Conversely, we have a long way to go in learning to speak the truth to one another in love and encouraging our members with the truths of the Gospel. I have seen many, many people left to their own devices and allowed to continue in the downward spiral of self-pity. I pray that we learn how to lift one another up, and am thankful to have leadership that wants the same. I crave a community that wants to know how each other’s spiritual lives are really going, on a level that has nothing to do with spiritual action and everything to do with the condition of the heart and mind. Not for the purpose of pointing fingers, or evoking a response of guilt in order to beat us into obedience, but for the purpose of speaking the balm of grace and mercy into wounds that have been open for weeks, months, or years. The truth that we are loved and that nothing can possibly change that. What undeniably Good News.

3 comments:

jess said...

you have basically summed up what i've been thinking through the past 2.5 years of my life. thank you for posting this. i say a hearty AMEN!
so thankful that nothing I do or don't do can make Him love me less.

Elisa M said...

"but for the purpose of speaking the balm of grace and mercy into wounds that have been open for weeks, months, or years. The truth that we are loved and that nothing can possibly change that. What undeniably Good News."

you are beautiful.

brooke said...

well said.