"The life of brave sinning, with its courageous confession of sin and recognition of our inability to do any good without God, renders us God-centered at the core of our being." (Sin Bravely by Mark Ellingsen, pg. 80)
Who knew I could type so many posts from one small book?! Thanks to those who have commented on them and let me know if you agreed or disagreed with the author's statements. I greatly enjoyed reading what you had to say.
When I saw this book in the new section of my library, I was hesitant at first to read it. Sin Bravely just sounds bold and a bit risqué and then I saw it was kind of a critique of Rick Warren. Not sure how I feel about him, but he's not on my "ugh" list. I knew his book, Purpose Driven Life, was super-popular although I admit I never read it. But in my quest to read books outside of my comfort zone, some that may challenge me to think a bit, I decided to see what he had to say. Afterall he claimed to challenge Joel Osteen's Prosperity Gospel (I'm not a fan) and that his brave sinning message was based on Luther's, Augustine's and the apostle Paul's teachings so I knew it couldn't be all that bad. Right?
Were there things I disagreed with? Yes. A bit. But I found much more on which I could agree with the author. Especially if I reflected honestly instead of self-righteously. He stepped on my toes some. And some things I flat-out rejected because - of all things - political thinking. But overall, eh, not bad. I really enjoyed the emphasis on God-centeredness.
In fact if I were going to sum up the lessons I took from this book, I'd urge myself to say no to self and individualism and be others minded. ("In honor prefer one another.") I'd say to not water down God's grace. Realize my sinfulness is huge and damning, but God's grace is ... well, amazing. Really. As Jeremiah tells us in Lamentations, "It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed....His compassions fail not. Great is Thy faithfulness."
So, it's not about me. About how good I am and what I can offer to God. It's all about HIM and His goodness, His mercy, His gift. And how He can work through me.
From this book I am reminded of the tax collector and the Pharisee. How one tried to tell God how virtuous he was and thanked God he wasn't like the sinner over there. And how the other knew he was a sinner, admitted it, humbled himself and begged God for mercy. Do you remember which of the two Jesus commended to His disciples? Was it the one who "deserved" God's favor because of His good deeds?
In fact, Jesus stated: 14"I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
And finally we read this in church the other day and I thought it fit perfectly. With this book and also with my nation. Really, even among those who say they follow Christ. Especially note verse 15 and how it can apply to America these days...and also churches quite often.
13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So, love and serve others. Just as Jesus taught. Who knows, but in the process, you just might find that joy and fulfillment you seek in your purpose-driven life!