Monday, April 12, 2010

Hard questions

My pastor has started a new sermon series about the hard questions in Christianity.  I think it might be a good hook for following the Easter crowd.

When the series was announced and the little question cards were handed out, I put 'Why do bad things happen to good people?'  I have my own answer to that question, and I want to hear Matt's answer.

I missed church yesterday because Georgia was sick.  So I don't know what the sermon was.  Probably I missed my question.  That's just the way things tend to work.

But I've thought of two more questions.

1. How can a sinner (even a sinner saved by grace) live a holy life?

2. Why me?

Let me explain.

1. How can a sinner (even a sinner saved by grace) live a holy life?

Christian's sin.  It's unfortunate, but it still happens.  I've only met one guy who claimed that at the moment of his conversion he attained a real-life-moment-by-moment state of sinless perfection.  I told him that he seemed very proud of this.  The irony was lost on him.  Probably I should have tried to be less subtle.

Paul sinned.  Paul referred to his 'thorn in the flesh' that God chose to not let Paul experience victory over.  So we could take this question down to just Paul, even though it applies to everyone, really.

Paul sinned.  Paul committed the same sin over and over.  After he had repented and tried to stop repeating the sin, and he continued sinning anyway, what happened?  How many times can you commit the same pet sin over and over, and honestly ask for forgiveness each time.

"Oops, I did it again."  Seriously.  Over and over.

When it becomes clear that God has decided to let you live with this sin instead of experiencing freedom from it, how should you live?

Does your prayer life change?  Does your physical life change?  Jesus said, "if your eye offends you, pluck it out."  I see no evidence in Scripture that Paul plucked out his own eye.

How do you live holy and sinful at the same time?

2. Why me?

(I have a harder time explaining this one.  Maybe it is just my mood right now.)

Scripture is pretty clear that this whole thing is all about God.  Salvation is a free gift from God, and not earned by works.  God offers suzerainty treaties to us because He is doing everything and we are just recipients of His mercy and grace.

He doesn't need any of us.  If we were silent then the rocks would cry out to praise Him.  When He adopts us we are full of sins and bad habits.  His purpose in our lives is to break most of those habits and teach us to think and act like Him.  When that process is done I will be virtually indistinguishable from Him.  That is the point.

He loves everyone.  He would die for just one person, if that's all there was.  But there are billions, and He loves each one of us.

So I'm one out of millions/billions.  If I didn't obey then someone else would, or the rocks would.  And the whole point of obedience is for me to cease to exist.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't seem like such a good deal to me.  I want to matter.  I want to make a difference.  I want to participate in something other than ceasing to exist.

Why me?  Why not let someone else do it?  My own life will certainly be a failure without Him.  But it will be my own life.  And that just seems like it is better than ceasing to exist.

(This is probably the depression speaking, now.)

It just seems to me that anything I enjoy gets taken away in the name of becoming more holy.  Anything that I am good at gets taken away.  "I must decrease, He must increase" sounds like a beautiful dedication.  But my experience is that it is slow torture and misery.  Is my misery the only thing that He can receive glory from?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know of evidence that Paul's thorn was a sin. I've often heard it attributed to some sort of physical affliction...arthritis maybe, or diabetes...something manageable but limiting nonetheless; something that kept him very humble and dependent on God. Check out the very thorough commentary on that verse at The answer to your hard question might be much different if the thorn was an affliction rather than recurring sin.