Disclaimer to the Reader:
Hello reader, before you waste your time reading this post I want to make sure you fit into the intended target audience. If you are one of those perfect Christians, someone who doesn’t struggle with sin or one who is maxed out in your own sanctification, you would do well to stop reading as this blog post will only cause you to further look down on the rest of us. Maybe instead, you might want to spend some time pondering this or this or maybe even this. If, on the other hand, you are one who stands in awe of scriptures like Luke 18:13, or Romans 7, or 2 Corinthians 5:21, I have an encouragement for you.
I Corinthians 15:9-10
“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.”
I have recently had the privilege of meeting a new friend who goes to our church who, a few months prior to our meeting, had given his life to the Lord. I invited him to sit with my family and me during Sunday morning service because he told me he normally sits alone. Being around a new Christian is a bit like watching an old, lazy dog seemingly regain his youthful vigor at the park when it sees a puppy playing with a stick. Or maybe the same can be said of the owner of the old dog; sure, your old dog knows the rules of the house and does exactly what he’s supposed to do, but seeing the unbridled joy of your friends puppy makes you remember why you got a dog in the first place. After every sermon, my new friend has looked at me with tears in his eyes–yet without shame that typically comes with public weeping–and tells me, “I get like this every time. God is good.”
A man that remembers what he has been saved from, a man fresh from the spiritual morgue, doesn’t fall into the same traps that we, the more seasoned saints, do. This is where I Corinthians 15:9-10 comes in. Paul, writing this book right in the middle of his ministry, tells the Corinthians where he has come from and the picture is a gruesome one. He doesn’t hide from his brutal past but reminds them of it in order to give all glory to the grace of God. More than that, in his next letter Paul tells the Corinthians (10:17) to boast in what the Lord has done in them. This is very difficult if we forget that we were once lost. I find great encouragement in this. Paul, the great missionary, the apostle who will go on to write more books in the New Testament than anyone else, the theological watchdog of the early church, humbly points to Jesus and says I know who I really am or what I would be apart from Christ.
Maybe we should do this more often. Maybe we should stop quoting how we’re all sinners and start actually believing it–by not acting like we’re not. Maybe we shouldn’t care so much about what everyone thinks we are. This has been on my mind more as of late than I would have thought. Before we left as missionaries, Emilie and I were simply The Poors. We were the family who drove broke down cars, lived in a small house, and couldn’t afford to change either of those. I wasn’t very successful at work and I didn’t really know how to do anything of value. But now, we’re the POORS, missionaries to the lost world! I meet people all the time at church who don’t have a clue who I am, but when I tell them my last name, their eyes light up and they begin to unknowingly aid the enemy of my soul in his goal to have me give myself completely over to pride.
Listen, if you didn’t know it before, please allow me to burst the bubble of what you may or may not think of me. I’m a sinner. Not just one of those sinners who says they’re a sinner so as to then tell everyone how they only sin on little things, I’m a helplessly sinner. If you don’t believe me, maybe you just haven’t spent much time with me. My mind is wicked. My heart is wicked. I’m a sinner. But I’m saved by Grace. I am what I am and Christ’s grace towards me was not in vain. I am slowly, and probably slower than you would want, being transformed into the image of the beloved Son of God. I’m not ashamed of this.
Please don’t get me wrong, I hate my sin. If I could take a pill or dance a dance to get rid of my sin nature, I’d do it. I hate my sin, the problem is I just love it too much. And in that paradox I impatiently wait for my Lord to fully rescue me from this tent that is my earthly home.
So if you’re reading this and you fit more into the category of the old dog Christian rather than the young pup of a Follower, try to remember that life as a believer wasn’t always about making it to bible study on time with the memory verse securely in memory, making sure your kids are quiet while the pastor is preaching, or pasting a smile on your face around church so everyone thinks you’re doing fine. Maybe get around a puppy once in a while or simply remember that freedom you felt when you were first New in Christ.