What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Polar Opposites

There is a church in our general area that has a new bumper sticker announcing a web site called Their old bumper sticker used to read, "If you still sin, you're not saved!"

I'm not making this up. (Although I wish I were.)

I always cringe when I read these kinds of pronouncements because I wonder about the perception this gives people who don't yet know Christ. Naturally I also feel for the person duped by this errant theology.

I saw the new bumper sticker on a car today while I was waiting for my wife to join me at the swanky Golden Arches restaurant for dinner. Sitting there in my car I was reading (I'm often reading) a book by Brennan Manning entitlted, Abba's Child, The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging.

Abba's Child is what every believer is to God, because of Christ. We are accepted as our Heavenly Father's child, not because we don't sin, but because of our faith in the only One who didn't. I had previously read Ragamuffin Gospel by the same author and was blessed by it.

Manning is an overly transparent sort of ink slinger. I like his authentic style. He is a Catholic priest, a recovering alcoholic, and not very victorian with his language sometimes. But he's a prophet when it comes to calling attention to the heart's longing for a genuine relationship to Christ. He grew tired of the hypocrisy in his own life and doesn't mind pointing out the same in the lives of others.

Why I bring his book up in the context of the misguided bumper sticker and web site is what Branning says.

"I began writing Abba's Child with one purpose in mind: to recover the passion that fired my desire to enter the seminary and seek ordination to the priesthood. In the process I discovered that all I wanted from the years of silence and study was to fall in love with God." (Page 9)

"For many years I hid from my true self through my performance in ministry. I constructed an identity through sermons, books, and storytelling. I rationalized that if the majority of Christians thought well of me, there was nothing wrong with me. The more I invested in ministerial success, the more real the imposter became." (Page 35)

"Accepting the reality of our sinfulness means accepting our authentic self. Judas could not face his shadow; Peter could. The latter befriended the imposter within; the former raged against him." (Page 44)

Polar oppostites: striving to achieve the unachievable goal of sinless perfection versus knowing that you are accepted because of the faith-based relationship you have with God through Christ. Trying to impress people by announcing they can "sin no more", as if you have already achieved this state, versus, trying to lead a mature Christian life because you love God.

I'm thinking of a title for a better web site...


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