Thursday, April 12, 2007

His Grace is Enough

Our culture, and dare I say it, particularly the Christian culture, is obsessed with perfection. Strength. Victory. Winning. A plusses and Botox. So much so that we are afraid to admit our faults to one another, keeping us from showing each other who we really are. Everything becomes a competition. We compete for the best mom, the best student, the best wife, the best Christian. I was never really good at being the best at anything. I got so tired of trying that, when I was in high school, I just sort of dropped out of the best game. I knew I wasn't good enough, could never be good enough, so I just stopped trying. Instead, I went the other way. I was much better at being "bad". It certainly came a lot more naturally to me than being good.

Remember Edmund, from _The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe_? He's the supposed "bad" kid in the book. Well, truth be told, he's the one I relate to the most. It's sad but true. I'm sure I'd sell out my siblings for sweeties if given the chance. Especially coming face to face with evil as he did. What's interesting to me is that none of the others had the interactions with the White Witch that he had. She happened upon him as soon as he entered Narnia. Cold, alone, bewildered. She's the first person he met. He was bewitched. Deceived. He gave in to her tricks. He believed her despicable lies. He's very much like Eve. And like Eve, his actions cost Aslan His life.

All of us have a little Edmund in us. Some more than others, I suppose. So why does it still surprise us when we fall? Being a Christian is not, and has never been, all about acting right. If it were, we would have no more need of Christ. It is, and always will be, about our utter and dire need of a Savior. That I need saving to the very depths of my being. It's about His goodness, when I am bad. His strength when I'm weak. But what does that really mean?

It means that you are going to blow it! At some point, face it, we're all going to make a bad choice. And when you do, who's got your back? Who will be there to catch you when you fall? The point of walking with God isn't about not blowing it. It's about what to do when you blow it. Do you lie, hide, or blame? Or do you fess up? We would rather focus on what we should or should not be doing. If I'm doing that, then my focus is not on God, but on myself. My own "righteousness." And we all know what that is like.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we put on our prized robes of righteousness, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves we fade, wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6, Living)

Frankly, I think we give so much attention to our own filthy rags, that don't know what to do when we blow it. Like children having temper tantrums, who don't have the tools to properly deal with anger. We're told, "Stop that!" "Shape up!" "Fly right!" "Believe!" The focus is on eliminating the behavior rather than healing the person.

I would love to find a book entitled, "The Crappy Mother" or "The Weak Wife." I am more interested in someone's struggles and how they deal with them, their battles and how they fight them, then I am in two-bit versions of righteousness. I am more interested in God Himself. Not someone else's bad impression of Him. If that's what walking with God is all about then this verse makes no sense:

Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. (2 Cor. 12:9, NLT)

Glad to boast about weakness, huh? Try doing that at your next small group meeting and see how well that goes over. Believe me, I've tried.


Wes W. said...

Yay!!! I agree!!
Just today I said to the Lord, "Thank God that You lead me/correct me and I don't have to do it myself!" I never really know if I'm wrong or right (unless it's the 10 commandments or something) and how much less able I am to know the state of my heart!! But God showed me today - that's not my job!!! I am to follow. He, being my Shepherd, is totally responsible to lead me. And He does. His conviction is so sweet, and, it is in the moment. He does not allow a lot of black and white (except, of course, Jesus is the Son of God) so that we will have to lean on Him. What freedom! But it is scary to accept when you never want to be wrong, embarrassed or seem weak. When you never want to have to redo anything. The same goes for others. I was worrying about someone today and in my concern I feared there might be a speck of pride in myself. I felt so uncomfortable! Then God reminded me He never asked me to sit around and worry about this person (to the exclusion of my children!) But if I would attend to my duties, He would certainly attend to this person, and maybe even by His grace use me to help her, too. But it;s Him, not me. That's why I was coming up with nothing. I love that scripture about how a man shouldn't judge another man's servant - it says something like, He is my servant, I am his master, and I am able to make him stand, and he will stand!
(I'll try to find that reference.)


Angela said...

Erin, I love what you said about God not allowing a lot of black and white. He certainly is a multi-colored God! Like you said there are a few exceptions, i.e. the ten commandments, Jesus is the Son of God, etc. I can't help but remember what you always used to say about Weigh Down--that we are so much more comfortable following a diet rather than the Holy Spirit. That rings so true regarding any formula, religion, or method. That's why I get so frustrated with books or teachings that profess to be "God's way" of doing church, raising kids, living your life, etc. There really is not one way to do something His way, is there? I had the realization once before that if God is perfect in all His ways, couldn't He choose to act in any number of ways, and it still be perfect? Yet we tend to think that there's ever only one perfect way to do something in order to be pleasing to God. That's not freedom, that's bondage! We truly are much more comfortable with a formula than with a Spirit. We can still be in control with the formulas. Not so with the Spirit. That requires trust and surrender. Yikes!

Tony said...

Excellent post, Angela!

Angela said...

Erin, I am rereading your post and it's really speaking to me. The part that's hitting me the most is " is scary to accept when you never want to be wrong, embarrassed or seem weak. When you never want to have to redo anything." It's cutting me, Erin. Cuts like a knife.