Confessions of a Formerly “Strong Christian”

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

In my early years as a pastor I made a point to be holy, at least externally. I wanted to be a strong christian example. I didn’t cuss, I wore What Would Jesus Do bracelets, demanded external perfection of my students, and set up impossibly high rules for others. I was making moralists– hyper religious people who make Christianity all about how good they can behave. I was not, unfortunately, leading people to recognize their deep need for a savior. In my studies I came across a quote that I loved at the time but have now found to be contrary to the gospel. The long dead Robert M’Cheyne (who I generally LOVE) said, “The greatest gift I can give my church is my personal holiness.” Perhaps it’s just me, but my personal holiness apart from Christ is a shipwreck. The greatest gift I can give to you is that Jesus has done for broke down disasters like me what I could never do for myself. The greatest gift I can give you today is the good news that God relentlessly loves the weak and the bad. (fyi: weak and bad people are the only kind of people who actually exist.)

I pray you find hope today in knowing that Jesus loves and empowers those are weak, bad, and broken. Take comfort in knowing that your strength and holiness, or lack thereof, is not a determining factor in God’s love for you. His one way love crashes into your life not because of how good you are but because of how good HE is! Boast in your weakness, it is in that place you’ll find his grace is sufficient for you. Finally, you’ll be free from the pressures of pretend holiness. Finally, you’ll be perfectly holy because Jesus covers you. And finally, you’ll be able to take off your mask and let him meet you in the mess.

 

 

p.s.  w.w.j.d. bracelets make Christians weird. You know what Jesus did? Jesus lived the perfect life you could never live, died the death you deserved to die, and rose from the dead after absorbing the wrath of God against sin. You and I can’t do that. It’s not in our job description. #stoptheweirdness

4 thoughts on “Confessions of a Formerly “Strong Christian”

  1. I think it may just be a difference in perspective, but “what would Jesus do” is a good question for those of us on this road to sanctification.

    Jesus said things like, ” If you love me, you will obey what I command”.

    He said, ” Love each other as I have loved you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Let your light shine before men.”

    Also, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

    In order to obey, we need to know what he said. Maybe WWJD is a helpful reminder.

    Just food for thought.

    1. I’m all for obedience! Just as long as it flows from God’s love instead of being a spiritual poker chip to earn his love. He loves me perfectly, so I can love others without need for reciprocation. He was struck for me, now I can be struck without retaliation because my ultimate punishment has been struck and stuck on the cross. He left heaven (more than a mile) for me, so I can go above and beyond to walk with those in need. He loved me while I was an enemy, so I can now love my enemies expecting nothing in return. My grace-centeredness is, admittedly, a push back against the sneaky ways that self-righteousness tends to creep into God’s people, including myself.

      Another aspect of this conversation is defining sanctification. If we define it as “cleaning up our act” (a phrase used toward me when I was a younger Christian) then we may fall into the trap of putting faith in ourself to find rescue from the besetting sins of life. Instead, I desire to root out the deep issues that lead my sin, ie: what am I turning to for approval, acceptance, significance, etc that’s not the finished work of Jesus. Tim Keller, one of my fave authors, puts it in a catchy phrase, “Religion says, ‘I obey therefore I am accepted.’ The gospel says, ‘I am accepted therefore I obey.’”

      1. I define sanctification as the process wherein one becomes more like Christ…less of me, more of Him!

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