Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

18 November 2008

Sin Boldly


Warning... A Cajun Presbyterian swears in this blog post.

One of the comments that some people make about my speaking or writing (or even just after hanging out at my house) is that I'm quite open about how much I suck. Not in a testimony about how I got free from my "old man" type way... but in the "I'm a daily disaster that God likes" kinda way. You wouldn't believe it if I told you just how moronic, insensitive, jerk-like and selfish I can be. Really. It's sometimes like I'm inventing totally new areas of stupidity. And even though I don't always ACT on it... you should hear what goes on in my internal dialogue.

Like it or not, the sin nature is part of our DNA. We're sons of Adam. Whoops... we fell. The rest of our time on earth will be spent having glory grapple for position with it.

So I say it out loud... because I realize that it's a reality of life. Thinking otherwise (ESPECIALLY as a leader) is both lying to yourself, and setting a bar, for those following you, so high that they can't possible jump over.

This is more from Cathleen Falsani's chat with Jean Larroux, Pastor of a church called Lagniappe Presbyterian Church in Mississippi in her book "Sin Boldly".

"I think one of the greatest temptations for ministers is to talk about our sin in neatly packaged sermon illustrations so I can clean it up and sterilize it to the place where it's actually a subtle illustration of my victorious application of Jesus rather than a true illustration of the fact that I'm an asshole." This made me laugh out loud, settle in, and urge him to continue. "I mean, I come into work and I've got all this stuff going on and I snap at somebody and I'm just a real, live asshole. And grace in that moment, you can't neatly package. It's somebody throwing their arms around you and saying, 'I love you, but you are an asshole'"

Yes, but you're my asshole, I envision God saying.

"Grace doesn't deny my assholeness," Jean said, "Grace can't be amazing until your sin is amazing. You've got to get in that place where you can be startled by it, because if you do everything right, you don't deserve it."


Understand me here. For many years as a Christian, I've stayed far away from lines (at least publicly). I've lived not wanting to cause a brother to stumble because of my liberties. I've lived fleeing from the perception of evil. I believe that there is freedom from the things in life that drag us down... and, traditionally, my first reaction to statements like this has always been that, "it's risky because it's like a license to sin"... even though it not to be true.

Why should Amazing Grace be so risky?

Listen to what Martin Luther says:

If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace it true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness but as Peter says, we look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells... Pray boldly-- you too are a mighty sinner.

Sin Boldly
Believe Boldly
Rejoice Boldly
Pray Boldly


A Lutherite that I read about, in describing this writing, summed Martin's writing as him simply saying, "Get over it." It's not a license to sin. It's just a... be real dang it. Of course you suck... we all do. Get over it. Don't let a little something like THAT stop you from living big! Go hard! Believe Big too. Pray Big too. Don't be so dang Pius and righteous.

Have you ever heard a Christian "witnessing" to someone using the phrase, "I know you look at me and think my life is perfect because I'm a Christian". I can't even image a stupider thing to say. I will GUARANTEE the person being proselytized is thinking... "Ummm... No YOU think you're perfect. I think you're more of schmuck than I am".

Sin Boldly.
You WEREN'T A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE
YOU ARE A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE
Get over yourself.

I love hanging around "off duty" pastors. They are a blast, because they can shed their contractually required image and their heavy burden of expectation and can just be a real person. The kind person someone would actually want to get to know, warts and all. I'm gonna admit something. I dig pastor's warts. I don't like make-up. Clean people worry me. It portrays to me a world that:

A) I know doesn't really exist (i just hope THEY don't think it does for their sake)
B) I would want no part of if it did because I wouldn't fit in

So why is Amazing Grace so risky that we refuse to just take a deep breath and be real? Why would we live in fear of Graceland? Are we afraid of what our "Pius peeps" will think since they've (of course) long since conquered sin? Are we afraid that it will cost us a chance of ministering to people since clearly sinners are disqualified and have nothing to share? Maybe we're just used to hiding.

When we expose ourselves to others, we have nowhere to hide and nothing to hide from. It's liberating. The only way to get free is to let light into the dark places. And once you do... and experience the great freedom God floods your heart with... you'll soon find out that you suck in another area. It's a part of going from "glory to glory". We couldn't do that if there wasn't always MORE to overcome on our journey.

As a friend of mine said recently, "The stronger I get... the weaker I feel". To which I heard God say, "Yep" followed by the words (in the voice of Christopher Walkin from the More Cowbell sketch)

"Explore the space"

This is why we cannot destroy ourselves with guilt over our sin nature. Do we need forgiveness? Of course. That's a given in this discussion. But Grace trumps the Guilt. It's that extra component of, "you may not have earned this, but you get it anyway" that God gives. We're in a constant process of discovering new wonderful ways to suck... and letting God teach us about himself through them. Grace IS context of growth! We need to sin boldly to experience God's amazing grace and display it openly to others who long for it. It keeps us in a place of NEED of a savior, reminding us that we've not yet arrived, and are entitled to only what God (by his Grace) lavishes on us... because HE'S so darn good.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining like the sun,
We've no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
Amazing Grace

3 comments:

Melissa said...

I feel like shouting "I suck" at the top of my lungs....thanks for keeping it real. Really. Thank you.

candidchatter said...

Oh how you get it. This is why I love your blog. Refreshment for my soul. Beautiful post and I think I may have to link to this someday soon. Great, great job!!

Heidi Reed

Beth Murphy said...

Great post, Dave. That's one of my favortite quotes from Sin Boldly. You're right, it's so important to just be real with people, and with ourselves.

Beth Murphy
Zondervan

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