24 May, 2006

Let the nations know they are but men.

Work was hard today. I came home after two intense, one-on-one, 2-hour-long conversations feeling frustrated and tired and unable to organize or communicate my thoughts. Friend #1 is struggling with feeling lost and depressed and purposeless and alone. She wants God so badly, but continues to lack any feeling of closeness or comfort.

Friend #2 is happy. She considers herself a devout Christian, and thinks that all the religions are basically the same anyway so they should just unify and get along. She knows she’s not perfect, but feels confident that God sees that she’s doing her best and feels regret when she does bad things, and believes that He will be satisfied enough with that to at least let her into a level/section/circle of heaven better than that where any really bad people might (by grace) be allowed in. And if there is any remaining sin, purgatory will take care of it. And if there is no heaven at all, then that’s fine, too. I mean, if that’s the case, what are we going to do about it, anyway?

In light of these conversations, I prayed:

“Dear Father,
I’ve had about enough blasphemy for one day. So many people here claim the name of Christ, but do not seem to know, honor, or fear You on any level. Am I judging wrongly? Is this just my own prideful reaction? What is enough for salvation? What is required? Do I have any right to say that doing one’s best and feeling remorse for sin is not enough to satisfy You? And how can I tell what anyone’s (including my own) “personal best” is, anyway? Isn't that just focusing on a new or alternative kind of legalism? The contrast between (Friend #1) and (Friend #2) is stark. It’s not that sorrow is more important than joy. Or that angst is more valuable than peace and contentment. It’s that truth is more important than ease.

Lord, what is the difference between: a) my own resting in Christ’s sufficiency and fighting feelings of condemnation that I might find peace and freedom in Your grace, and b) (Friend #2)’s total complacency and acceptance of her lack of perfection, lack of knowledge, and lack of interest, believing that You will be merciful to her in recognition of her “doing her best” whether or not she is willing to accept truth or correction?

Where is the line between resting in faith and slipping into a coma of apathy and false security?”

It’s not about sincerity, or effort, or confidence, or remorse, I don't think. I think it is about the object of our faith, and Who He Is. It is about the truth, and whether or not that object of our faith is sufficient and worthy of trust, of worship, and of sacrifice. Is the object of my faith Christ? Or is it myself and my own inherent charisma or goodness? Or is it a blind belief that everything will work out okay in the end? Sincerity, effort, confidence, and remorse might flow from a realization of the truth, but they are secondary.

“I don’t want this to be about pride, or about being right about things, or about the quality of my view of/walk with/service for You. This is about You and who You Are and what You deserve. You deserve so much more than I give You. I need wisdom and words and truth and understanding and boldness and patience. I want to see the blasphemy and blindness and arrogance in my own life. I fall down at Your feet again, empty-handed. Amen.”

Then, a few hours later, we got a message from Sara that another friend realized a few days ago that Christ is the answer, that He is the way to God and the only solution for sin. That she doesn’t deserve to go to heaven, but that Jesus died for her and has forgiven her. This is the most encouraging thing I have heard in a very, very long time.

Thank You, God. Thank You for showing me that it is possible. Thank You for breaking through to someone.


Anonymous said...

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Luke 15:7

celebrating with you in the company of angels.

monica said...

Praise God!!!! Thank you for writing all that. I've had those same questions, but you point to the Truth, and I love that.

Woo-whoooo! Praying for God's continued work.