"Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything that is written in the book of law."
I start to get angry. Then I stop. I take a deep breath and grab a pen and write my thoughts. I listen to the sermon. I look up, I look around, and the words just keep coming so I write them down in response to the listening. No one else is looking around. It's like they're scared to be seen while they hear about their complete and total depravity from the pulpit.
I want to stand up and say STOP please stop, where is the redemption, where is the grace, where is the healing...
Because so often, in so many congregations and so many denominations, it is left at this:
1) you are nothing but depraved
2) God hates sin
3) you are hiding your secret sins
4) God can see your sin
5) God hates your sin
6) stop sinning
7) the end
It's dangerous, I think. If we leave it at that, what are we leaving out? And maybe even more importantly, what are we adding in?
I've listened to more sermons than I can count that followed the numbered steps above, and only those numbers. So at some point in my life, I started to believe I was nothing but bad and that God could not possibly want anything to do with me. I don't think that's just me, partially because I have many people in my life who tell my same story.
When we hear something that's left at the end over and over, we fill in the blanks with a whole lot of shame, shame that leaves us stuck in our pits, afraid to look up, to be found out. It leaves us alone.
When I began to face my internal beliefs, things deeply rooted through years of words like those from Sunday, I saw that the complete focus on sin had back-fired. Because if I believe that is all that I am, I live out that which I think I am. Failure, ugly, shameful, unworthy...
dangerous things to live out.
I don't want to live there. I want to live in the freedom that Christ came to bring for this life and the next. I want to love because He loves me like mad. I want to try because He loves me like mad. I want to stand up and say NO, that is not who I am, THIS is who I am, and then I want to live that out.
I don't want to focus on me and fixing me and then focus some more on me and what I'm getting right and what I'm getting wrong.... That leaves no room for living out my faith in the world around me because I'm never thinking about them.
But how do I do that if someone is telling me sin is all that I am?
It seems that many Christian leaders are afraid that we'll forget the seven numbers. Maybe some people do forget, and of course there are some that have never heard the gospel message. But for the most part, I think we already know. Let's face it, most preachers are preaching to a congregation that is mostly Christian. There aren't many non-Christians who find the church appealing.
As one of those Christians sitting in church, longing to be fed some life, I am already fully aware of the seven numbers because I'm the one wading through my own troubled mind and life just like the rest of the world. Of course, I may now and again need a good bonk over the head, reminding me that I've got a long way to go, but for the most part I'm keenly aware of that long way on a daily basis.
What I'm looking for is teaching that reminds me I can do all things through Christ because He loves me the way that He does, and then I want to live the joy that revelation brings.
Because you know what?
If I do that, if I really GET that love...all the other stuff, the shameful horrible stuff we're focusing on, will fall away in it's time.
I wanted so badly for this sermon to end differently. (and to be fair, it's a four part series, so maybe it will end differently, I hope.) But it didn't on Sunday. It ended with the end.
I wanted to walk to the front and grab the microphone. I wanted to add what I think He would say to me...
8) I'll never let you go
9) I'm crazy about you
10) there is no the end to that.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us."
I want to believe that fully, and then love other people with that kind of love...
(I wanted to share a video here because it says what I'm trying to say, but embedding it on a blog is not a possibility. You can still check it out on YouTube: How He Loves by David Crowder. Thank you.)