Special or Complicit?
I want to go on the record and say I am not qualified to preach! I am a singer-songwriter who loves to inspire people with rhythm and rhyme. Yet still, many of you e-mail or stop me after a concert and say, “When are you doing another devotional?” So, can I stipulate this one time for all the rest of the times that these are just my thoughts and I could be wrong? Ok, thanks! I appreciate you letting me share things with you that have been on my heart. They may inspire, and they may sting, too. Let me start letter this with a key verse that hit me hard the other day. It’s from The Message version of the Bible:
Romans 3:20 (Paul speaking to the Jewish people of that day)
“Our involvement with God's revelation doesn't put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else's sin."
I love to people watch. I always have. My favorite thing to do is to find someone, turn to whomever I’m sitting with, point that person out and say “Hey, there goes____ !” (Inserting the name of a person they look like that we both know.) It usually gets a good laugh or at least a smile. I mean no harm. It’s just funny. I even do it to myself. Whenever I see a person with a long, pointy chin or someone running with their knees all bandaged up I’ll say, “Run Ernie, run.” Or, as my football coach used to scream at me, “Run Thunder-foot, RUN!” I really am SLOW!
But there are those times; I find myself starting to size people up and pass judgment when I have no idea what they are walking thru or anything about their plight.
That, my friend, is just wrong! Why do we do this? Self-righteousness?
I love this quote from CS Lewis:
“A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to Hell than a prostitute.”
So, here is the newsflash that comes across my mind when I read Paul’s words:
WE ARE NOT SPECIAL JUST BECAUSE WE ASKED JESUS IN OUR HEARTS!
I know that is a hard statement, but let me explain.
In our calling to promote and build the Kingdom of God, we forget that we are basically benefactors of living in grace. And that grace-filled enlightenment doesn’t make us any better than someone who is still finding out that their grace-less life is a Dead End Street.
The Apostle Paul said of himself that he was the “chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) It doesn’t sound like Paul thought he was special for writing over half of the New Testament and bringing the Gospel to the rest of the non-Jewish world.
And look at the Jewish nation. God used them to bring the Law to mankind and to make known to everyone that a relationship with God’s Holy heart was possible. That’s really living in revelation! Being a part of something that big would make anyone feel special. However, Paul told them “This does not make you right with God.” (Romans 3:20)
It’s all about “attitude” and our feelings about our relationship towards people Jesus died for. Remember the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee as he looked at the tax collector in Luke 18:11 – ‘The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!’ Jesus abhorred this attitude!
Living forgiven doesn’t mean we forget that we are all sinners who were “complicit” in the death of Jesus.
So where does that leave us today? Plain and simple, I believe it puts us in the same place Jesus was in when He came seeking the lost. It leaves us with the challenge to be in the world but not of it. Being light in darkness. Living a separated life does not mean we are to live insulated lives filled with pride because we are spiritual. What good are we at that point?
So, I challenge us all to get to know and spend time with someone who is out there, I mean REALLY out there. In calm assurance of who you are in Christ, hang out with them. Eat their food, drink their wine and listen to their anger at life and at God. Listen and don’t try to fix them. Earn the right to speak truth to them. And be honest. Just because you don’t know the answer does not make God less real. When you don’t know the answers just say, “I don’t know. Life is a mystery and so is God. This is not science, this is Spirit.”
Hey, one more thing, don’t be afraid to show them your scars. Tell them about past mistakes and how God’s grace can bring healing. Yes, the scars remain, but remind them scars also show healing. Even Jesus has scars that will never go away and because of them we can be healed.
And, one last warning, be ready to hear the talk from the so-called brethren. “Look at them, they are hanging out and fellowshipping with sinners.” Yep, they said the same thing about Jesus and aren’t you glad He did it anyway? Otherwise, we would not be having this discussion today. Bottom line: it’s time to be real. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus made us all special by becoming sin for everyone. Praise God that He came down to our level. Now is the time to do the same. Follow our Master’s attitude and example for Heaven’s sake.
Oh What A Savior!