BY PAUL DUNK
When Dorothy, Toto and her 3 new friends finally arrived in Oz, they were met with a staggering disappointment. The Great and Powerful is Oz was not so great and powerful.
Here's the classic scene from 1939 ...
The spectacle we see when the curtain gets pulled back on the wizard is on point. There he is, eyes bulging in utter shock, scurrying frantically to keep the big machine moving. The gig is up ... or is it? His 'confession' lasted all of 3 seconds ...
Oh no my dear, I'm a very good man ... I'm just a very bad wizard."
Convinced of his own goodness, he moves quickly to convince everyone who saw behind his curtain of his goodness as well. He hands out a fake diploma, a plastic clock and an unearned medal, fully expecting everyone to be happy with these ridiculous trinkets and forget his offense. After all, though he is a very bad wizard - he is a very good man.
When our sin is exposed, it's very uncomfortable. Like the wizard, we are faced with two choices when the curtain gets pulled back:
Will We Repent or Rebrand?
Some of you may recall when I wrote about how back in 2010, the faithful teaching of scripture by various Christ-centred teachers changed my life. The doctrines of justification by grace alone set me free, and in doing so, those same doctrines pulled back the curtain on the false prosperity teaching that I embraced and taught.
Do you know how hard it is to at look yourself in the mirror (and others in the eye) and confess that while it was the cross of Christ that eradicated the curse once and for all, you told people it was their giving? "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" my ego cried. And cried.
I'd love to tell you that after repenting of that sin and engaging in 5 years of seminary, I am now a sinless, poster boy for sainthood. That would be a fantastic piece of fiction.
The fact is, while I have a new nature in Christ, my old sin nature remains and they are constantly at odds with each other. My nature in Christ compels me to love God & my neighbour, but my my sin nature is still committed to coercing me into living a 'ME 1st' life.
When Susan, my kids, or friends who are closest to my marriage pull back the curtain on my sin, my new nature is free to repent. The problem is that my sin nature is a delusional wizard who thinks that my intentions are always noble and the real problem is with the people around me who don't 'get my heart'.
Good News ...
The gospel of grace announces that though we are all the 'man behind the curtain', we are also united to Christ. As such, we are not going to get what we deserve for being that sinful man. Instead, we are going to get what Christ deserves as a sinless Son.
More Good News ...
The gospel is news. In Romans 1:16, the apostle Paul calls this news, 'power'. How can news be power?
The good news of the gospel relocates our sense of identity. More and more over time, we live our lives from a humble-confidence, produced by the gospel.
We are confident because we know that God loves the worst versions of us. Therefore, we are free to repent and not rebrand because we don't need to keep up appearances.
Nobody is better than us.
We are humbled because we know that God's relentless grace toward us is undeserved, so we are free to repent and not rebrand.
We aren't better than anybody.
'The gospel declares that though our sin is worse than we'd care to admit, we are more loved than we'd dare imagine.' ~ Timothy Keller
May the grace of God continue it's rescuing and reforming work so that more and more, we enjoy living our lives to God's glory from the humble-confidence that the gospel produces.
May the gospel continue it's liberating work in us so that as we aim to love one other, we are free to repent when others show us how we are the man behind the curtain.
Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.