To the Pastors and Preachers whose only word for me and others seem to be, "make sure you’re right with God!" and then proceed to remind us of all our possible sinful behaviors;
You’ve left us with nothing but law to rely on when you do this. So please, I beg you, if the law is what you’re giving us, then tell us how can we know we’re right with God? Should we know by making sure we don't sin? How much? Is there a percentage to stay below? Please, tell us. We want to make sure we’re right with God. If we follow the law, is that a guarantee of our place with God? You seem to make our behavior the tipping point for whether we’re accepted or not. How much of the law should we keep? God says even the smallest infraction makes us guilty of all of it! Jesus even implied our thoughts betray us, and carry the same guilt as our actions. It's like he raised the bar of the law way up to the heavens. How do we reach it? Please, tell us. Despite what you think, we’re desperate to know!
We know we don't love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we don’t do that, you can be sure we don’t always love our neighbors as ourselves. Record our thoughts for just a few minutes, it would surely embarrass us before friends and family. It would show that we sin daily. They may not be the most horrific looking sins, but does that matter? So please, tell us, how can we be sure? You almost always stop with, “MAKE SURE!” You throw the burden of proof of salvation in God on our creaky hunched over shoulders. When you do, fear grips us and batters our very souls. We feel crushed by it-haunted-because we know we don't measure up! Even if we did everything right, pride would puff our chests out!
We hate sin. We do, but not enough. We wrestle with sin, and sometimes lose. Is that enough? Is that what you’re looking to hear from us, from me? Is it enough that we don't sin without some burden reminding us what we’ve done wrong? Is it enough that our conscious is so pricked that we take a knee in repentance? Does that mean we’re saved? Does it mean we’re right with God? Please, let us know. It seems that every time you speak, it results in some variation of, "MAKE SURE YOU’RE SAVED!" We need you to tell us more than that. Take us farther than you have. You've reminded us of our wretchedness, and you've given us some variation of the law to knock us off our feet. It’s a good reminder! Thank you! Now we’re on the floor, begging for something to give us hope. Something that we might throw our wretched, sin-racked bodies upon.
You might tell us, “You should know what gives you hope!” But, have you ever taken the time to assume we know about our sin already? If there is anything many of us are acutely aware of, even before you spoke a word of law, it's our sin! Aren't you? Aren't you acutely aware of sin in your life? Don't you wrestle as well? Don't you think we might grasp that aspect of our lives? But still, we get it. Sometimes, we need that reminder. We know why you do it. But please, we beg you one last time, don't stop there. You laid us low, now lift our spirit!
Give us a cross to run to. Don't just give it to us like we’re a sinner in fearful desperation of trying to avoid a hammer. We get that, we do. More than you know... Instead, tell us of a Father that is calling out and looking for a returning prodigal, even if the prodigal hasn’t turned back yet. Tell us about a Savior willing to die for us. Tell us about a God who so loved His creation that He came to earth to be both a sacrifice to cover our sin-rich lives and a perfect law keeper to declare us righteous.
Tell us how that sacrifice covers our sins, past, present and future. Tell us over and over again, with the same volume and tenacity you used to tell us of our sins, of a perfect life that He exchanged for our sin-riddled existence. Please, tell us of Savior that comes to sinners even before they repent. Remind us, that even the faith in us that now encourages us towards repentance is another gracious gift of God. Please tell us more. It gives us hope for the future. Give us stories of a merciful God that holds back wrath so more might come to Him. Tell us the story of a Savior that's weaved throughout His written Word, Old Testament and New.
We can doubt our salvation all by ourselves. Now, remind us of a Savior that increases our hope when we feel hopeless, that is our strength when we are weak and who is faithful when we are faithless. This is where we find the ability to "keep" the law. Not perfectly, and maybe not even with sincerity, but with an honesty that includes a bended knee in daily repentance. Because here is where we find a Father who loves us, even when we mess up. That is what encourages us not to mess up. It's not the warning against sin, but the proclamation of Grace!
So please, again we beg you, as we close, give us Gospel, give us hope for our despair. Give us a risen Savior that has paid for the sins of the world.
Please, we have plenty of law…
We need Christ…
Please, give us… give me… Christ
The Sinner Saints
A theological misfit landing in the area of Lutheranism, Dominick has come to deeply appreciate the truth of scripture as defined by the distinction between Law and Gospel. He has found freedom in knowing that Christ is his substitute on even his worst days. He has been for the course of his church life everything from chair-stacker to men's ministry leader. He is blessed with a wonderful wife and two great young men, which he can say without a doubt, he doesn't deserve. He counts among his favorite things: Star Trek, classic superhero comics, movies, Yankees and yes, he admits to it, the Knicks. He enjoys a good conversation and good food. Finally, he is grateful for the opportunity to share the message of God's Grace among all these great teachers, pastors and theologians and hopes he doesn't mess up big time. But then again, that's what grace is for, right?