Let’s Pretend

We just want to hear how great we are and how special we are. We forbid anyone from saying that we are not good. To be called a sinner brings to mind the outcasts of society. We feel that we  are saints and how dare ministers refuse to preach sermons that lifts us up even higher. How dare they not preach that our season is coming. How dare they not tell me that I’m fine and I only have a few issues.  We reject hearing the truth and reject the term sinner as well as re-brand the word “sins” to “issues”.  We define sin with bold behaviors and extreme actions as to distant ourselves by default into holiness.  We put up fences around some areas of our lives and throw the remanding skeletons into our closets.   We achieve this by knowing about Jesus and not really knowing him.  We have collected a group of stories about him but have no real world experience with Jesus Christ.  It’s like you and I know someone with the same name,  and this person that you are describing to me may actually share some general traits.  But it is not until I start to describe personal details about this person that can only be known unless I intimately know them.  When I list these traits, attributes, and deeds of this person; you realize that we don’t know the same person at all.  So only a fake Jesus can give us a sense of salvation assurance while maintaining a relatively unchanged outward working on the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is unbelievable that anyone can come in contact with God and not be changed.  How could I speak about people this way?

Who Am I to say anything about anyone of course, I myself  am nothing more than a sinner battling my flesh. So let’s pretend that we don’t know the real Jesus Christ, just the “build a bear” one. Let’s pretend that we think about ourselves first and others sometimes. Let’s pretend that when we see the poor our hearts are cold. Let’s pretend that when we hear about something the church wants to do for the less fortunate, we roll our eyes. Let’s pretend that we use bad language to tear down our neighbor and in the same breathe proclaim how blessed we are. Let’s pretend that we get jealous of others and  worship celebrates as gods. Let’s pretend we care about trees more that people and we value our values above everything. Let’s pretend that our dog is more important than children without parents. Let’s pretend that we believe that as long as those people stay over there and don’t come into your neighborhood, that’s loving them. Let’s pretend that you don’t react differently about race when it affects you directly. Let’s pretend that you think sex before marriage is a must. Let’s pretend that you are a queen or king and your household should server your every wish.  Let’s pretend that money over everything is cool and anything goes to get it. Let’s pretend that pulling yourself up by your boot straps is the way life should be, and helping others is shameful. Let’s pretend that if  we had a few more things our lives would be perfect. Let’s pretend that more things equal more favor from God.  Let’s pretend that revenge is how things are done.  Let’s pretend that you do whatever you want and you don’t care what people think, how it affects others and you dare anyone to say something to you.  Let’s pretend you have a clique at church and you give others who are not in your group a hard time.  Let’s pretend that “fill in the blank” (it cannot be Jesus) saved your life.

After we use our imagination to pretend these evil things about ourselves let’s add one more thing.  We can add what author Jerry Bridges in his book “Transforming Grace”, call “refined sins” which are selfishness, pride, impatience, a critical attitude and a judgmental spirit.  How are these things sin,  they cause us to put ourselves on the throne of our heart where Jesus belongs.  As sin by nature is us turned in on ourselves.  Meaning, sin is always choosing yourself over God and others, placing yourself at the center.  We can simply look at the Ten Commandments and see that this is true.

With this I believe it is safe to say that we are all sinners in need of a Savoir.  So where is our encouragement?  Where is our building up?  Where is our edification?  Where is our affirmation?  Where is our inspiration?  All of these things are right where we they have always been.  All of these things are still in the same place were we left them as we pursued ourselves.  We left Jesus to babysit the promises that he has given us as well as the power that was gifted to us also.  We dropped them at the cross because we felt that with Jesus we could use him to gain what we truly desired.  We became more lost as we  became fixated on ourselves.  The only way to edify without increasing self-righteousness, pride and encouraging self-justification is to lift Jesus up.  What we seek rests in Jesus Christ‘s life, death, and resurrection.  The grace of God that loves and died for the unlovable sinner, is the only power able to resurrect the dead.

Here is our edification….  Without Christ we are lost no matter how religious we are about controlling our external behavior and having an appearance of godliness.  It is the heart and what motivates our fruit bearing that alienates us from God.  We are made righteous by the work of Christ earning salvation for us because we can’t.  We are humbled because we are all alike and are all in need of a Savior.  We are all lifted up because God has made us his children, we are exalted and humbled at the same time.  No man can do that without causing us to sin even more.  Only a gracious and merciful God can do that.  It is why the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the temple to prayer, the humbled tax collection went home justified.

Ephesians 2

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Honestly, I believe that the hardest thing to believe about Christianity is not the miracles or resurrection. I think that coming to grips with Jesus being God will ultimately solve those questions.  But even after understanding Jesus is the Son of God,  dealing with the fact that I’m a sinner in need of grace is a war I fight daily with my flesh.  A battle of guilt, truth, faith, hope, love, slavery, freedom, selfishness, justification, salvation, acceptance, and self-righteousness.  I have learned what it means when the bible says in Romans 5:20 “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,”  Understanding that I’m a sinner doesn’t beat me up or make me feel guilt that I dwell in.  My understanding of sin helps me understand grace and see the cross in light of the immeasurable love of Christ.  It’s like this, we can’t properly show appreciation to soldiers of WWII without understanding to destruction of the Nazis.  So as a Christian, how can you truly worship without knowing the depth of your sin bared by the Son?  The Law of God shows us have far away from God we are.  It paints a picture of the futile efforts of our good behavior as we try to measure up and be holy.  The further the gap the great the sins, as now everything we do is centered on us further corrupting good deeds with selfish hearts.  Then here comes Jesus, the Christ is the meditor Job desired to stand between him and God.  We have that and I love it.

Job 9:32-34

32 “He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,

    that we might confront each other in court.
33 If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together,
34 someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.

To pretend that we are sinless, is to remove our court appointed attorney that is Jesus Christ.

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