My Big Fat Sloppy Sanctification

Life is messy. Sloppy, really. We like to pretend it isn’t, but it is. We prefer hiding behind whatever mask we’re wearing in the moment that we think hides our messiness and undone-ness from others. But it doesn’t. Not really. Nowhere is this more true than inside the church. It’s there that we refer to life on the ground as sanctification with the incorrect assumption that sanctification means continuous movement toward self-sufficiency. That’s because the message we’ve heard for so many years has been heavy on progress and light on justification. Heavy on behavior modification and light on mercy and grace. The banner of the Christian life has become my (and your) progress. “Am I pulling it off?” has replaced “it is finished!” If it appears you aren’t pulling it off like I think you should be, I morph into fix-it mode which I think gives me permission to put you in a spiritual headlock until you cry “uncle!” and superficially produce the “change” I need to see in you in order for me to be happy. At least, that’s how I remember it.

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The Phone Rang So I Answered It

In my previous post I wrote a blog about a good friend of mine who called it quits and walked away from the faith. It’s probably a good idea to read it before reading this one. It’s a post called We Don’t Need Another Hero. I hadn’t heard from him in many, many years but more recently, he’s been on my mind. Then today, he called me. Right out of the blue. We haven’t talked in so long I don’t remember our last conversation. I had no idea where he was and I certainly didn’t know how to reach him. But he found me. He tracked me down, found me, and called me.

I’m so glad he didn’t call me six or seven years ago when I was so deeply immersed in performance. I couldn’t have offered him hope if he had called me then. The only thing I would have had to offer then was law. An endless to-do list of behavior modification that only leads to hopelessness and despair because none of us can pull that off or ever be good enough. Instead, we talked about Jesus. We talked about the good news that Jesus loves train wrecks like me and my friend. We talked about how we got it all so wrong all of those years ago, believing God was mad at us if we screwed up. And man, did we screw up. I reminded my friend how Jesus likes to hang out with the weak and broken. He loves our true selves, mess and all. We just didn’t know it then. We thought we were supposed to be strong and competent because that’s what we were being told. But that’s a lie and no one is like that. Some people just have so many layers of masks that they’re wearing that they’ve become experts at hiding their true selves, or they’re just better liars. But let’s be honest, none of us has it all together. Jesus knows that and he loves us still. He doesn’t just love us. He likes us. When he was on earth, he wanted to be with people just like us. And he still does.

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