I am a huge advocate of what I like to call “openness to brokenness”. What I mean by this is that, often times, we attempt to appear as though they “have it all together” instead of being honest and open about the struggles we face. We in the church may find ourselves using common Christian clichés amongst peers to hide the “shame” of discontent, fear, frustration and sin, while privately beating ourselves up over these mistakes, shortcomings and sins. Or we might bury these struggles and sins and refuse to grieve over them, hoping that they will just go away if they’re ignored. Even as you read, maybe you’re acknowledging your familiarity with these situations, and maybe you’re thinking that these things sound like the obviously incorrect way to handle things, but you can’t think of another way to respond to and recover from sin or failure. This is where openness comes in.
I’m sure you’ve heard the common phrase taken from Alcoholics Anonymous: “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” Pretending like we’re not suffering or struggling is a sure-fire way to get us into trouble with sin, so we must be willing to admit our faults and failures without feeling that we must also broadcast them. First, admit your sins to God – he knows them anyway. Secondly, God intended the church to be a place where we could be honest and receive support and prayer from fellow believers. But, it is important to remember that those in the church are still human and prone to error, so find someone you believe to be wise, and that you can trust. Make sure that you aren’t confiding in great numbers of people if you are struggling, because this may tempt others to talk amongst one another. Keeping confidence with someone you trust helps keep us from holding onto shame, or hiding our true selves. This also helps us to be accountable to those we trust, to overcome the sins that seem to bind us. None of us is without sin, and we aren’t fooling anyone by pretending that we are – but we are saved by grace.
If the first step is admitting, the second is accepting the truly inexplicable grace of God.
Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the most significant event in all of history, because the sins of the entire world, of every person who would ever live, forever were made His burden to bear so that we would not have to die to our sins any longer, but receive eternal pardon. This act is grace standing in the gap that sin creates between us and God. Eternal life, enjoying God forever, are God’s riches, given to us at the expense of the life of His beloved son. As people who sin daily, our job is to grieve the sin, learn from it, and accept God’s grace over it; not punish ourselves when the price has already been paid!
This is the reason we can sing, “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” This is the reason we can claim no guilt in life or fear in death.
Admit you have a sin problem.
Accept God’s grace over you.
If you struggle with the idea of grace and sin – get to know the person of Jesus and the character of grace. Here’s some reading material:
“What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey
“Searching for God Knows What” by Donald Miller
“Maximum Faith” by George Barna
“Erasing Hell” and “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan
And here’s some listening material: