I have been corresponding with a friend for a while on an issue that we both are working on. John is my accountability partner with internet use and so on, and I would be so far from where I am if not for him. Over time I have had several guys to whom I made myself accountable, and I am so grateful for their work and prayers. So, thank you to Randy, Carl, Doug, and John. May God richly bless you for taking the time to work with a hard head like me on such a difficult issue. I remain a “work in progress,” but any success I have had is due to your prayers and work. Thank you.
Anyhow, my correspondence with John took a turn in an interesting direction the past couple days. We have come to a point in our discussion where the focus is on matching Biblical Grace with Biblical Truth, and not as separate issues. This is what John said:
“Grace and truth often appear to be in conflict with each other and yet Jesus was FULL of both at the same time.At the risk of offending you and apologies if I do, you are FULL of truth and light on grace. We need to be FULL of both and that’s so very hard (seemingly impossible) to do.”
“Christianity is unique from other religions in this way: other religions offer advice on what I must do so that in the end God may accept me. Christianity says that I CANNOT earn my place with God. ALL I MUST DO is accept the gift of God’s salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ. All I must do is repent, NOT first from my sins, but from my righteousness; from that which I think makes me ‘good enough’ to stand before God. THAT is the ‘gospel;’ THAT is God’s Good news.”
Ok, pretty much my whole life I’ve been angry, but I’m not sure exactly at what. My Dad used to tell me (a lot) that I was going to wind up in jail if I didn’t get my temper under control, so this is not a new phenomenon. Further, I have always had a strong sense of justice. Mom used to tell of me coming home from school and after watching kids pick on other kids that were weaker or whatever, talking about how that wasn’t fair. Finally, I do tend to see things in black and white. It’s right or it’s wrong, and if it’s wrong, then it’s wrong. Period. This part serves me well with things like fidelity and purity, but maybe not so much in my relationship with people.Now, that having been said, I have long maintained that I don’t care what you think, or what I think, or what anyone thinks; what does the Word of God SAY? And if something is spelled out as right or wrong, then there it is.And here’s where all of the above clashes. On controversial issues of the day, I have little patience for a unitarian approach, whereby if that’s what one wants to do, well, that’s just fine. But I also recognize that the “hammer” approach doesn’t often win a lot of converts (or friends for that matter). So, where does that leave me?I think that with people whom I trust and feel comfortable with, like Beth, and those of you in Small Group, I feel free to just say what I think, and not hold back. But that doesn’t really give an accurate representation of what I think, who I am, how I respond, and what image I put forth to the world. I was talking about this to Beth and she observed that I seem to have “a public face and a private face.” True. Especially after Bob’s sermon two weeks ago, I have been trying to be a bit “softer” in my approach on Facebook. And for a long time, I will rant about our daughters to Beth, but when talking to them, I am much more subdued.I think I have two issues here. First, quite honestly, I get tired of taking it. I get frustrated with people taking foolish or just plain wrong positions, and acting like they are morally or intellectually superior to me. Makes me nutty. The example I gave Beth was, so if someone says, “You know what, I don’t believe two plus two equals four. I believe it equals five,” the response I want to give is, “Idiot, NO IT DOESN’T, AND YOU ARE DEMONSTRATABLY WRONG!!!” But I’m supposed to say, “Well, that’s interesting. How do you come to that conclusion?” That is hard for me.Second, I really struggle with this: Who is really served by soft-pedalling the truth? I’m just not sure. I know I am harsh, but I struggle with being “squishy” when “capital-T” Truth is being discussed.One example from Sunday night. As you said earlier, I am not trying to offend, and I apologize if I do. I noticed something that was said. The statement was made that she has no problem with people who are divorced serving in church. Actually, I don’t either, but like I said then, it depends on why they were divorced. Referring to what I said above, I don’t care what anyone thinks, what does the Word of God say? And God says, “I HATE divorce.” Now that is pretty strong coming directly from God, and I think we are a bit cavalier about divorce. Is divorce the unforgivable sin? Certainly not. But it is a serious topic that we should not just gloss over.Most sin, I think, affects me, and only indirectly others. Gluttony or lying being examples. Both are wrong, both are sin, but often the main effect of either sin is directly on me. I bear the brunt of the crushing effect of them. But pornography or divorce very often hurt people right next to the one committing that particular sin. I recognize that in terms of value all sins are the same, but the ripple effect, I think, is much more striking in some sin than others.