9 Jun 2007

My sins seem to always get in the way

Submitted by theshovel
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my sins seem to always get in the way

Jim, I am going to use a bunch of labels to describe my religious trappings: I am an elder in a Presbyterian Church, I believe that God is sovereign in everything especially my salvation, I believe any works I accomplish of a spiritual importance came from Christ. I believe that I am nonetheless responsible for my behaviors. I believe my relationship with Jesus is personal and I wish we were even more intimate, but my sins seem to always get in the way of that closer bond. This may sound silly, but I disagree with just about everything the protestant church believes about End Times (I would use the word eschatology, but I know you would not approve). I believe Hell is temporary and then we are annihilated. I do not believe in macroevolution. I believe abortion is wrong as is homosexuality, but you could still have relationship with Jesus in spite of adhering to those views. Heck you know more about me then I know about myself now. George

George, I appreciate you taking the time to detail your thoughts and background for me in this open manner. It really gives me some good insight. It makes sense and ties a lot of things together with how you’ve been reading me. :)

I don’t know if you read about some of my experiences in the Presbyterian Church, but for a few years before I ended up taking my family to the local PCA I’ve referred to in my personal info section. I had sensed a real liking and connection to the denomination. It was my last year at Bible College that I attended a Church for a few weeks not far from the house I was living in at the time. The pastor-teacher was very organized in his teaching and that appealed to me. He was also going through a stage in his life where he was quite excited about the Christian Life, and it seemed to infect many of those who attended. If it were not for the fact that I got married and then moved further away we may have become regular members. We did stop by for a visit on a rare occasion, but I didn’t sense the same excitement at all. I do believe it was a short-lived phase. I think he may have ended up draining the life out of it through his doctrinal constraints. But that’s just my speculation.

I’ve also had numerous connections with a United Presbyterian Church before and after that time. One of my singing buddies landed us a paying gig leading songs for their Sunday School class (it was just a few dollars). My parents ended up attending that Church. As I had my own lawn maintenance business I picked up the Church as one of my accounts. My daughter did most of the mowing while I did the trimming. I sang for them one time. What I’ve noticed is that the UPC seems rather shallow, especially compared to the PCA.

Anyhow, for whatever that’s worth … :)

I believe my relationship with Jesus is personal and I wish we were even more intimate, but my sins seem to always get in the way of that closer bond

This is what I am most concerned about, for I desire you to know that he does not hold your sins against you. There is no closer bond than what you have in Christ, for union is as close as one can get.

Jim

Jim, It seems we have some things in common. The kids are in bed, and I have time to write. Again, please I know you are busy with your web site, so if you got others to correspond with, do not hurry to write me back. I do have a question for you in regards to your comment on what I wrote: “I believe my relationship with Jesus is personal and I wish we were even more intimate, but my sins seem to always get in the way of that closer bond”
Then you replied: “This is what I am most concerned about, for I desire you to know that he does not hold your sins against you. There is no closer bond than what you have in Christ, for union is as close as one can get.”
I know that in a positional way (it is just a word, don’t freak yet) I am seen as perfect in God’s eyes because of Jesus’ covering. Yet, in this realm I do not feel as close to Jesus as I would like and I am under no delusion this is due to sin I struggle with. Do you not also desire a tangible relationship where you not only know in your mind that Jesus loves you, but you can actually sense His presence? George (having a mid life crisis)

Dear “mid-life crisis” …. LOL
How’s that for an Ann Landers kind of response? LOL

I know that in a positional way (it is just a word, don’t freak yet) I am seen as perfect in God’s eyes because of Jesus’ covering. Yet, in this realm I do not feel as close to Jesus as I would like and I am under no delusion this is due to sin I struggle with. Do you not also desire a tangible relationship where you not only know in your mind that Jesus loves you, but you can actually sense His presence?

Is it okay to freak now? LOL! You don’t realize how easy you make this for me for you perfectly illustrate my whole issue with theological words. However, I think you sense something is amiss since you feel the need to project a sense of freaking upon me. :) The truth is that I’m merely connecting the dots you so nicely lay out for me; if there’s any freaking going on, it’s on your side.

You apparently assume my comments about the bond we have in Christ is devoid of a tangible relationship, that it is disconnected from real-life experience and intimacy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The intellectual mind insists upon this divide because it cannot cross over, and so it creates a framework where teachings are separate from real life. It’s not actually the teachings of Christ that are the problem, it is the Teachings. In other words, we use words that refer to the teachings of the God of the life, but we’ve already concluded that such teachings are separate from the tangible. We even teach it as being separate when we make our divisions: Doctrinal versus Practical, Theology versus Application, Positional versus Tangible, etc. The difference is that which is dead versus that which is alive.

We attempt to bridge the gap by applying learned truths (that which we call Doctrine, Theology, Positional Truth, etc). We stand upon this because we realize that such truth will otherwise produce nothing. This is not the kind of truth Jesus Christ spoke of when he said,

and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32

Instead, the truth he spoke of is real and alive. His gospel, the good news, is God’s power for salvation … it does the work.

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. 1 Thessalonians 1:5

But do we really believe that? Instead, what we’ve done with the truth of Christ is akin to performing an autopsy. We’ve taken that which is alive and have killed it, laid it out on a slab and cut it open … all in the attempt to figure out what makes it tick. Doing so allows us to categorize and define it. This way we can get a handle on the parts we want to teach. Is it any wonder we would have to make applications for such teachings? After all, what good would this kind of teaching be without practical steps? If that which we’ve accepted as teaching has no real power in and of itself, perhaps it’s time to check its vital signs. We may be trying to resurrect what God already put to death in his son.

Jim

Jim, Thanks for some interesting insights. Can you tell me a little about your personal relationship with Jesus, that I might compare with my own. This isn’t one upmanship, but a down to earth look at what we both possess in Christ. I do believe words are important in regards to expressing what we understand to be true and I realize as you have alluded to, we can disect and try to explain the unexplainable, yet abhorrant and heretical teachings are nonetheless thorns in our paths. George

Hello my friend, George!

I do believe that you do not seek any kind of one-up-man-ship, but I don’t think you really understand what you’re asking for. Comparisons are futile, for our attention is drawn not to Christ but to that which appears to be. However, I suspect my personal relationship with Jesus might disappoint you by its lack of usual comparative tell-tale signs. On the other hand, my relationship to him can be seen in the simplest of things, it can be seen in my relating to you as well as to others; for I speak to him in speaking to others, I love him in my loving of others. I at times also wonder what the hell he’s doing in my life and why it seems that he leaves me hanging. But his life will then just show up in the midst of deadness and hopelessness. Not much to compare, eh? :)

Jim

Hey Jim, The reason I asked about your life, is that my own life disappoints me at times, I have been a Christian over 30 years and I still struggle with asinine stuff. In addition, over these last 30 years I have notice that most people that call themselves Christian seem to be in the same “boat” no matter how good, bad or lack of a theology they adhere to. Yet, (to be honest) some theology people have is better then others, especially if you have to talk with the idiot who insists on banging you over the head with the Law. I have read a lot of your stuff, some of it several times, and I am trying to make sense of parts and much of it I totally agree with. So, I guess your going to have me bugging you at times when questions arise. Just out of curiosity, how do mainline Presbyterians handle your thoughts or any other Church you attend? No tar or feathers, right? George

As to how mainline Presbyterians handle my thoughts … well, based on the one group I attended for a while, they love the emphasis on Sovereignty, but then it goes downhill from there. LOL They definitely didn’t want me teaching their kids, that’s for sure.

Hey, I don’t mind the questions, so send them on when you got ‘em. :)

Jim

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