Sunday, March 1, 2015
The problem with moral progress. . .
I don't know about you but I see little moral progress in my life. My heart knows the pain of sins so familiar to me that they are like family and of the strangeness of holiness -- even though my mind knows this is what I should desire. My life bears the marks of my failures and my failings in ways I cannot hide or ignore. There are preachers and churches who presume such moral improvement and I wish I saw it but I don't. Sin is my addiction and I am like an alcoholic but one drink away from losing sobriety. This is why daily repentance is so important. I know who I was, God knows who I will be, and every day He must convince me of who I am -- forgiven, born anew, raised from death to life by the merits and mercies of Jesus Christ alone.
Christianity is not a luxury for me. It is a necessity. My shame would drive me completely to despair were it not for the value God has placed upon my life. I look in the mirror and my conscience tells me I am worthless. I look into the water of the baptismal font and God declares me worth the priceless blood of Christ shed to cleanse me from my sin. I look at the world and I feel defeated already. I look at the cross and I see the victory that no one and nothing can steal from me. I am undone except for Christ.
Hope for me is not some imagined progress toward holiness but the God who should be but is not put off by my sin, who became sin for me, that I might wear His righteousness as my new clothing. I am not saying that there is not moral improvement or progress but only God sees and knows it. And that is how it must be. We would so quickly abandon the scandal of the cross in exchange for a feeble good work we want to trumpet before those around us and show off to God. So it must be that while God can look and not see the darkness of my heart, I must see it so that I do not depart from Jesus Christ. On the cross He has extended His arms in suffering to carry my wounds and on the wounds of His back He bears the full weight of my disobedience. Jesus does not add something to my life -- He IS my life.
Some are comforted by the fact that they love Jesus. I wish I loved Him. Truth be told my heart is fickle and shallow. I know I love myself but the Spirit has to teach me to love Jesus. Like the sons of Zebedee I can hear the words of the cross and then ask God to make me happy and give me what I want -- and fail to see any disconnect between them. Jesus tells me the truth always -- even when I would be content with the lies I want to hear. So I come on Sunday morning -- not to beat my chest and tell the folks to do like I do because I have gotten the hang of it all. No, I come on Sunday morning to pray, "God, have mercy upon me, a sinner." And the Lord lifts my eyes from me to Him, from sins to the cross, from death to life, and from the joy of the moment to the everlasting joy of the resurrection to eternal life. Lamb of God, I come.... I come... Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on me... grant me Your peace.