I've been thinking a lot lately about how many times a day I am faced with the message that I’m somehow vastly insufficient. I think if I were to listen long and hard enough, there would be plenty of discouragement to drive me into utter depression. Usually to compensate for these messages, my pride will kick in as a sheer act of self preservation and produce hubristic fantasies about how attractive, smart, charming or likable I am. Both are terribly sad and exceedingly ugly. Both are sinful. In the book Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne says this,
"Some of us have been told our whole lives that we are wretched, but the gospel reminds us that we are beautiful. Others of us have been told our whole lives that we are beautiful, but the gospel reminds us that we are also wretched. The church is a place where we can stand up and say we are wretched, and everyone will nod and agree and remind us that we are also beautiful."
A saint and a sinner. Alive to Christ, yet still carrying around this stinking, rotting flesh. Both-and, not either-or. How great if we could learn to be a church who was able to speak this firmly and graciously! We can all make grandiloquent theological statements affirming this principal, but that's not what I'm talking about. I mean being able to speak it when we are sitting in our beds at dusk, crying heavy tears wrought from a failing marriage. Speaking it when we look in the mirror and convince ourselves that there is so much extra weight on our frame that we can't even bare to be seen in public today; speaking it when we look into that same mirror with an affected self love. Speaking it when the messages of inadequacy and failure ring with incessancy in our consciousness; speaking it when our pride produces the illusion of self sufficiency.
So to each of you who know the resurrected Christ, let me say this: yes, you are a wretch - and it can not be overstated. You are uglier than you can even perceive. But friend, you are more radiant than you can ever imagine! You are beautiful beyond words, because the King has declared it so, and given you his very Spirit! Praise be to God that there is a duality in us, that we are not left to our abject depravity. And praise him that he will continue to work out this great salvation until one day we look just like his son at that final resurrection! Like my friend Ben Harper says, that's the beauty of the gospel.
Friday, September 07, 2007
The Duality of the Regenerate