Is it possible for us to have an honest discussion about sin without being perceived as justifying it or being on the grace wagon?
Some of our sins are so hidden that most people would have no clue about it. I try to live my life as an open book, but even I have things no one knows. I desire honest, open lines of communication with God and others and strive to listen for depth and need rather than to check the box that I asked how people are doing. I am the person who stays after bible study, class, or wherever I am to get real with people, especially when I have perceived that there has not been much sincerity and raw honesty otherwise. I desire more from people and want to know the truth. I am not okay with people who I care about pretending everything is okay when I know it’s not. So that said, let’s be honest about sin, like more honest than you’ve been with yourself or with people in a while.
Honestly, the straight-laced, fake Christian lifestyle does not appeal to me. I want to be with people who are falling apart, those who have been in the gutter and have seen some stuff. I want to be around people who aren’t afraid to cuss or smoke or drink too much sometimes. I have a very hard time believing that at all the Acts Church meetings, where I’m pretty certain they had wine, some people didn’t drink a little too much or did something stupid. Remember that one of the parts of the Acts Church that we are missing quite often in the modern churches is they actually did life together. So time together equals seeing one another’s flaws and sometimes getting into trouble. It wasn’t perfect.
I am not necessarily condoning drinking too much or doing stupid things, but I am just saying that maybe we are idolizing the original church so much that it becomes easy to believe that they were perfect and had it all right. For goodness sake, the church fathers were more honest about sin than we are today. Look at some examples:
1 John 1:8 If we say that we do not have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and we’re not being truthful to ourselves. (reference for all the following scriptures)
Okay, so just like AA, we must first be honest with ourselves about the sin that is living in us. We must admit that there is a problem. Once we can admit that we have a problem, then we can begin to address it and let God do His work in us.
Pause & Reflect: Do you have anyone that you are honest to about your struggles? If you don’t, what are some steps that you can take to begin to open up and be vulnerable? If you do, is there someone you know who also needs someone to be a listening hear to their struggles?
I am a child of an alcoholic, so I know that there are many deep-seated issues that I have yet to dig into, but writing is my way of finally attempting to addressing them. I realize that I have sin cycles and a pull towards certain types of sins, including being an enabler and codependent. Now just being aware of this is obviously not sufficient in stopping it from continually being my cycle.
An long-time friend, who is also a codependent, told me once that she was addicted to chaos. I was shocked, but she explained to me that she lied to herself for many years about having the desire for chaos in her life. She tried to be comfortable with just a normal life but she found it mundane and unbearably boring. As she explained, I had to admit to myself that I am the same way. I can be somewhat “normal” and okay with boring for a little while, but then I crave having something insanely difficult to happen. I have found myself even asking God for it. I know that when I don’t have chaos in my life, my relationship with God gets lukewarm. I feel it immediately, and I can’t stand it. I have had many honest conversations with God telling Him that He knows for me to be 100 percent passionate for Him and on His track, that I can’t be comfortable. Being comfortable is the worst thing for my relationship with God. I know it, and He knows it. I can separate myself from all human interaction to stop myself from the chaos, but the only people that I am attracted to having a deeper relationship with are people who are also codependent, addicts, or something similar. My brain fights it and can’t understand it.
I can’t even fathom what it’s like to have a relationship that has trust, mutual respect, AND be interesting. It doesn’t seem possible!! People can justify it as a possibility all they want. My brain can say that I hate the chaos, but my actions do not follow my brain. Paul had it right when he said, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
How can I reconcile that I do the opposite of what I want to do if I can’t first admit it? I must be honest that I am powerless against the sin living in me. I cannot stop it. I can not change myself. With any movement on my part, without the leading of the Spirit, I constantly put myself on a path of destruction. And Lord, I want to be on that path of destruction because of my sin nature.
Even though my sin nature desires self gratification, I do “delight in God’s law.” I love Him and want magically to be one of those Christian girls who can wait and be patient rather than striving and getting ahead of God. I am constantly fighting the thought that since I’ve made so many mistakes already that I have missed my chance for a semi-normal, Christian life. As difficult as this is, I know that as I learn to trust him, be aware of the steps I make in compromising, and give the Spirit an opportunity to heal my past and my soul so that I move towards healthy relationships.