Monday, December 07, 2009

How to Help Christian Sinners


Wait!


Stop!


Cut that out!


How can I write such an outlandish headline? What does it mean? Either a person is a Christian and holy or a sinner and not a Christian. Those two things are mutually exclusive.


Really?


I came to the Lord at age ten so I have been ruminating on this issue for a very long time. I grew up in an environment where I thought that being a Christian meant that I was supposed to be perfect just like God was perfect. I thought I knew what perfect meant when I read it in the King James Bible so I tried hard to be a perfectionist. I failed; and failed; and failed; and gave up.


Once I gave up I pretended to be a sinner who did not care anything about God, church or the Bible. I was at war with myself and with God's ways. Failure at perfection made me into a failure at life. Then, one night in June of 1958 I was headed to Benton, Illinois to pick up my gambling, smoking, drinking carousing friends and go to a bar in West City. This was a town of ten bars and fifty houses where underage kids could carouse without police intervention. I loved West City because I could put on a "bad boy persona" and no one would know I was from a Christian home.


I had left Ina, population 300 or so, early so I could miss the Preacher Brother Boatright and the Evangelist who was holding a revival in our Church. After work at Dowzer Electric Company in Mt. Vernon I hurried out of town in a 1957 Ford Fairlane. But I did not get far because even a new Ford can't outrun God's Spirit.


The County Line Road is two miles south of Ina and I sped pretty fast toward that demarcation point between Jefferson and Franklin Counties in a big hurry to escape the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. A little over one mile from Ina I had a strange experience. I can still remember that I was passing the Burma Shave signs that dotted the right side of Highway 37. The dash lights on that Ford Fairlane brightened and a strange cloud filled the car. Then I heard it: "Gary! Choose this day who you will serve."


The voice in my head was not loud but certainly strong. Not shrill but with a sense of finality. I knew it was God speaking. I had only one choice. When a boy is reared in the Holiness Movement he knows that we never say "No" to God. I said, "Yes."

Actually I did more than that. I replied: "You Lord. Only you have the words of Life."

The lights dimmed and a sense of perfect peace filled the car. My life was changed forever. But I was still not 100% perfect and without sins, faults and stumbles. But I still had peace and knew who I was in Christ.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are born less than perfect with areas of Bondage, Rebellion, Guilt and Shame. Thankfully, God provided His only Son to take care of all four of those core issues.

Bondage: Dead: God Regenerated me and I was Born Again to new life as a Child of God
Rebellion: My way is best: God Converted me and turned my heart toward Him

True Moral Guilt: Deserve Justice: God Justified me and Forgave that Guilt

Shame: Loss of Identity and Inheritance: God Adopted me as an Eldest Son with His Family Identity and eternal Inheritance

After I was Reborn, Converted, Justified and Adopted I stumbled, made errors in judgment and sinned. But I am still in His family.
"Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus." RO 8:39
My kids and grand kids have my name and my inheritance. They will always be mine no matter what they do. They are imperfect and struggle in immature ways. I expect children to be imperfect but to grow in maturity, just as I did.
It is kind of crazy to believe that any person can be without sin, rebellion, guilt and feelings of shame. God provided a way for us to confess our sins and pray for each other so we would be healed. James 5:16
If we never had any rebellion or bondage or guilt why did God tell us how to deal with it?
How do we deal with Christian sinners?
Expect everyone to fail, sin and have guilt
Provide safe places for all persons to come for confession and forgiveness
Tell stories about falling, confession, repentance, and healing
Ask God what He wants to teach us each time we fall
Come to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in our time of need



1 comment:

Thelema said...

Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at http://christianityisdead.wordpress.com/ if you will. Love is the law, love under will. ;)