Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Sin Management or Grace

First, you need to go read this post by Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk. Done? Good.

I don't want to talk about depression today, although I could and probably will spend lots of time talking about it later, especially now that I feel better. Instead, I want to talk about "sin management".

I grew up Evangelical and Modern and Productive and I'm very good at sin management. This is what Dallas Willard calls our tendency to find a sin in our lives and then make a project of getting rid of it. Our Christian bookstores are full of books to help us deal with our various sin issues. We find the problem, get to the root of it, deal with it, and we're done. I like that approach. We do that in medicine. Have an ear ache? I'll figure out what's causing it, give you treatment, and hopefully you are cured.

But, is sin management really how God works. Some people would say no. In fact, a majority of people, if pressed, might agree that sin management is hit and miss at best. And it's not really scriptural. Have you noticed how the self-help (sin management) books have to do a lot of proof-texting of bible verses to make their plain work? Have you noticed that Paul doesn't write letters saying, "Hey, here's a four step plan to quit drinking, a three step plan to quit lusting, and a six step plan for success in your business." Yeah. The greatest preacher in history didn't write much in the way of how-to.

So, what does Got want us to do? I mean, I grew up in a world of solving problems. That's what I do. When I was working in medicine, my job was to try to understand a person and their illness (not just the illness), figure out the problem, and come up with a rational treatment plan. And that's how I lived the Christian life for a long time, too

When I read the Bible, though, I find something different. In the Old Testament, God has given us the story of Israel. I think God wants us to get to know him through these stories. And I think he wants the same thing when we read the New Testament. We meet Jesus in the Gospels. Then we walk with Jesus through the Epistles and learn through the letters to the churches how we can use that wisdom in our lives today.

The sin management thing hasn't worked for me. And, nowadays, my biggest problem is pain. I don't need God giving me assignments. I'm just too tired. I need grace. I need to walk with Jesus. And when I slip and fall, he's still there when I come back. He hasn't chosen to heal my pain. Yet. 

And then, as Chaplain MIke reminds us, joy can break in. Because God is doing everything, not me. I just walk along with Jesus and do as I'm told. Because grace.

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