Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sin, Grace, and the False Dilemma

The other day, the Christian band "Among the Thirsty" had a quote posted on their Facebook timeline. No one was credited, so I'm assuming it was one of their musicians, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, I liked this quote because it perfectly summarized a thought I've been having lately.

This is what was posted:

"The depravity of man and God's unconditional love for man are merely opposing truths without the bridge that Christ creates."

Lately, it seems I've been bombarded with this idea that EITHER we are dirty, worthless, weak sinners, OR we are redeemed, beautiful, beloved children of God.  I've been gently chided by well-meaning people for suggesting that I'm weak or worthless. I've heard people talking about this either-or scenario, seen people post about it on social media. And honestly, I have wanted to speak up about it for awhile.

Now, I get where some people are coming from (to a point). There are those that can't believe God would love them or that Christ would die for them because they believe the lie that they're too dirty or too far gone. There are also people who have gone through situations that make it oppressively difficult for them to refer to themselves or others as "dirty" or "worthless." I'm trying to be sensitive to that, but I'm coming from a different place. I can't keep quiet about it.

I'm coming from a place where I realize how sinful, weak, and worthless I really am. I'm coming from a place where I know the depravity of my heart, the way it can be quickly turned, the way it seeks the idol of self, the way it always has sought the idol of self. I know how weak I am, that I fear so much, that I want to hide away from the world. I know my worthlessness, that I've corrupted myself for the sake of such temporal things, that I don't have anything of my own to give.

In the perspective of the either-or philosophy on redemption that I've seen so often lately, things don't look so good for me.

Good thing I don't buy into the false dilemma, either-or philosophy.

It's not an either-or; it's a BOTH-AND. It's the most remarkable both-and scenario that ever existed, will ever exist. It's the both-and that changes everything.

I can't grasp how remarkable it is that God loves me unless I know how unlovable I am. I can't grasp how powerful God is unless I know how weak I am. I can't grasp how remarkable it is that Christ would die for me while I was still a sinner, unless I have some minute knowledge of how totally depraved I am.

I'm not wallowing in sin and worthlessness.  That's not where I am at all.  I'm understanding (as much as I can) how hopeless I would be without Christ so that I can appreciate (as much as I can) how much hope I have with Christ.

I'm no longer worthless, not because of some innate worth, but because Christ has given me worth and restored me to the purposes for which I was fearfully and wonderfully made-the God works which were prepared in advance for me to do, to the glory of God. I'm no longer weak because Christ's power is made perfect in my weakness. I'm no longer dirty because Christ literally went through hell to clean me up.

But I can't forget who I would be if God decided to leave me as I was, without Him. I can't act as if I were (and I quote a "Sidewalk Prophets" song that has great intent, and yet, I believe, misses the point) "someone worth dying for." I'm NOT someone worth dying for. But God, because He IS worthy, became a man and died for me. It's not because I am lovable, but because HE IS LOVING.

That is the point.

And while others might find the both-and scenario oppressive, I find that this truth frees me up.  My time and talents aren't mine. They were freely given to me, so I can freely give to others. My worth isn't by my own merit, so I don't have to be afraid that I'm going to mess up and somehow lose my worth. My weaknesses are just opportunities for Christ to reveal His strength. I can truly love my Father because I know how much He loves me. I can truly serve my Father because I know what He has done to adopt me as His child--not just a servant (though I don't even deserve to be that) BUT HIS CHILD.

I'm not wallowing in sin here at all. I'm realizing the remarkable, wonderful, incredible truth that Christ has done the impossible. He bridged the dilemma, the gap, the chasm of our sin, ever keeping us from God's holiness.  He's brought us back to God, made us whole again, and made us children of God.  No, I'm not wallowing. I'm rejoicing!

All glory to God.

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