Did you know that one of the top concerns of Christians is that they have needed too much grace? Oh, God cannot forgive me again. I've really done it this time. And one of the top concerns of non-Christians who might otherwise be inclined to seek the Lord is that they are too messed up for God to ever love them? I am just too broken. God could never love someone like me.
That's what all our posturing is getting us. That's what happens when the people of God believe that they have to pretend to have their lives all together. That's what happens when we continue to present to the world an image of infallibility and perfection, as if God's love has made our lives spotless. As if we are not in need of the very same grace as everyone else.
And it's why it's so vitally important that we just be honest about who we are. So that we can be honest about who God is. So that the world can see not just that our God is a good God, the kind of God who forgives our sins and makes us whole, but so that the world can see that our God is a faithful God, the kind of God who forgives our sins and makes us whole again and again and again and again. As often as we need Him to. As often as we humble ourselves and ask.
This is hard. It's hard because it's not something that we see a whole lot of in the Bible. The stories that we are given in the Scriptures seem to be one-and-done events. The blind man never comes back to Jesus and asks for a second healing (okay, except the one time when the people looked like trees walking around). The demon-possessed child doesn't come back with another demon in him. The lame man isn't carried to Jesus a second time by his friends. No, it seems that once the persons in the Gospel experience the healing touch of Christ, they are healed forever.
But we should not take that to mean that they were then perfect. We should not take it to mean that because the blind man regains his vision forever, he no longer has any need for Christ. That's far from the case.
And that brings us back to the place where we began - justification vs. sanctification.
Sanctification is the ongoing work of Christ to make us whole, to create in us a new creation and to solidify all the new things He's doing in our life. Sanctification is the work that brings us closer and closer and closer to God, one step at a time. It's the work that keeps finding one more thing, one more thing, one more thing in our life that could be better, that could be more God-honoring, that could be more God-glorifying, and turning that into our new prayer. Our new greatest need.
There is not one of us who ever comes to a point in our lives where we are not in need of sanctification. Where we no longer stand in need of God's grace. Every single one of us needs it every day, and when we're honest about that, we share our hope with those who need it most - those we introduced at the beginning of this post who look at our postured, so-called 'perfect' lives and can't fathom that God could love a screw-up like them.
Our answer has to be, has to be, how couldn't He? He loves a screw-up like me.
So let's just be honest about who we are - broken persons living broken lives and making the same broken decisions over and over again and standing continually in need of God's good grace. Let's be honest about who we are.
So that we can be honest about who He is. Not just a good God, not just a loving God, but also a faithful God.
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