I hope you’ll bear with me on this first entry, since it may seem to wander a bit. But I need to lay a little foundation for this blog. I have other blogs out there, languishing from inattention, and if you search hard enough you can probably find them. They spoke of political things, spiritual things, personal things, and reflect scattered thoughts as I journeyed through life.
Now I am retired, and have the luxury of time to look back and reflect where I have been and who I have become, and hope to become. I am closer to the end than the beginning, although I plan to be around for quite a while yet, Lord willing. But I have reached the start of what I would call the “summing up” part of life, the place where you begin to carefully examine what you believe in order to determine if it makes any sense, and maybe help somebody else figure it out as well. The title of the blog is not meant to be ominous; in the end, we all want to find our way home, and arrive knowing that somehow we managed to get it right.
This entry is a reflection of some thoughts that I have been rolling around for a while, and will probably continue to chew on for quite a while longer. It really all started as an observation: a whole lot of us consider ourselves “Christian” but live in wildly different ways and espouse wildly different beliefs, which led to the question: what does it mean to be a follower of Christ? We talk of a loving God, and how Jesus died for our sins, and how God’s grace now covers us so that we can be free from condemnation, and all of that is correct. But the Bible tells us there’s much more to the story.
We are told that we are sinners who have no righteousness of our own: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We think of ourselves as pretty good people; God disagrees. Isaiah wrote, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all of our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (64:6). No matter how we choose to see ourselves, the fact remains that we are all wounded, broken people, helpless because of sin to save ourselves.
Yet, at the same time God requires his people to be holy. In Leviticus, God tells the fledgling nation of Israel, “I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy” (11:44). The New Testament speaks of Christians in exactly the same way. Peter tells Christians that “like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15,16). The word holy means without spot, blemish or imperfection, set apart and consecrated to God. If we are Christians, we are to be like Christ, which means we are to be holy.
How can we be holy, and yet be so broken and wounded? We gladly accept God’s offer of grace, and yet we cannot seem to get over our wounds. The reason I know this is because we expect God to accept whatever worship and obedience we choose to give Him. We want the grace and forgiveness, even the holiness, but on our own terms. I am willing to give God enough to consider myself ‘good’, but I refuse to give up control of my life.
We choose to live with our wounds, and rationalize that they’re maybe not so bad after all; it’s just a part of who I am. God made me, others mistreated me, I can’t help it if I turned out this way. It makes me think of C.S. Lewis’ wonderful little book The Great Divorce. In it, Lewis tells of a bus that runs from Hell to Heaven. The ones who make the trip meet people in Heaven who they knew in life, and are invited to stay, if they will only let go of the thing that holds their soul; pride, fear, sorrow, i.e., their wound (pride is perhaps the deepest wound of all). Most choose to desperately cling to it and return to Hell rather than let go and receive Heaven.
That’s where many of us live as well. We cling to our woundedness, fearing that we will lose ‘ourselves’. We demand forgiveness but refuse submission. We are satisfied that we can never be ‘holy’, so we settle for ‘good enough’. And in order to live with it, we settle for a God of ‘good enough’, and tell ourselves the Bible is contradictory and full of error, too difficult to understand, there are many paths to God and everyone must find his own way.
Let me suggest another alternative. The Bible is inerrant and is exactly what it claims: God revealing Himself and His expectations to mankind. While there are some areas that may be difficult to understand, those things which are essential to life, salvation, and relationship with God are plain and understandable. It is we who through our brokenness, sin and pride have chosen to disregard and reject what is written in Scripture. And if we really understood how wretched and sinful we are, how holy God is, and what an amazing and totally undeserved gift God’s grace is, we would fully submit ourselves to Him in complete obedience and trust, and be healed once and for all.