I have had the privilege of being the warm-up act for my friend John Lynch at some TrueFaced Worldview nights. It is always fun because neither John nor I have any clue what we might say. To paraphrase comedian Mike Birbiglia: “Our thoughts have no on-deck circle. They go straight to the plate and it is batter up!”
Recently I got to join John close to home at an event in Ft.Worth. John does part of the “Two Roads, Two Rooms” message and I add my 2 cents along the way (adjusted for inflation). I am totally energized and blessed when I see people understand grace and what that means in their relationship with God. Can I make a plea to my tens of readers? If you have not heard the “Two Roads” message please go straight to their website and order a CD and/or DVD today. Next to the Gospel this has been the most powerful message that I have ever heard. That message was the beginning of my understanding about why I had been flatlined for so many years in journey with Jesus.
Even as I am energized by seeing people understand the truths of grace and identity I am saddened and, to be honest, frustrated by those who push back against this message. I want them to feel the freedom and joy that I have experienced over the past eighteen months. I wonder why anyone would hold on to a theology that produces hiddenness and tiredness? Recently I began a series about living out the Christian life in the workplace and secular world. I wrote a column about language and responding with grace to those who use obscenities. One commenter made this observation about my article.
“A true Christian will morn their sin and experience anguish when thinking of it.”
Immediately the old tapes of my legalistic upbringing were cued up. Who knew that 8–tracks could still be played? In one fell swoop this person had questioned my salvation, theology and demonstrated that spell check doesn’t catch everything. I had spent decades wrestling with sin and wondering if I was a true Christian. I would mourn my sin but then I would do it again. I experienced anguish but little joy. So if mourning sin and anguishing in thought made me a true Christian I was doing just fine. But I wasn’t.
It wasn’t until I really began to understand the truths of identity and grace that I began to resolve my sin. I am still a work in progress and will remain so. But now I actually am learning how to address sin in ways other than hiddenness and begrudging compliance to try by my own mad skills to do the right thing. I wore masks because I was too proud to admit that I was no where near the together guy I wanted to be. During a recent walk Country singer Keith Urban brought me back to the pride thing with his song “Tonight I Wanna Cry”. His song is not written about spiritual things but the lyrics describe how guys (the species I kind of understand) deal with emotion.
Cause I’ve never been the kind to ever let my feelings show
And I thought that bein’ strong meant never losin’ your self-control
But I’m just drunk enough to let go of my pain
To hell with my pride
Let it fall like rain, from my eyes
Tonight I wanna cry.
While I am not advocating the getting “just drunk enough” to let go of my pride part I am suggesting that I need to be willing to say to “hell with my pride“. And I do want to let go of my pain and give it to God. The Apostle Peter writes these words to the young men and those seeking to be elders but they certainly apply to all of us.
And all of you, serve each other in humility, for
“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (I Pet 5, NLT)
As I write this this morning I am not “just drunk” enough to let go of my pain. But I am “just tired” enough of it to give the pain to Him. I am tired enough to trust Him in humility. He cares about me. He sees me as righteous because of Christ. I have been changed into a new spiritual being. Incredible.
I am beginning to wonder if pride is not the enemy of this message of grace. It is tough to let go of your control and simply trust God. Humility is the hallmark of a Christian that is growing in grace and understanding. The question is very simple. Would I rather save face than see His face?