Remedial Christianity


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My son got this shirt recently from his Aunt Sarah.  Only when you are 10 or younger is this sort of shirt socially acceptable, but the first day he wore it, he was intolerable.  Every single time he did something remotely well…got an question right at school, successfully threw something in the trash can, told a funny joke….he would stop and say, “I’m awesome, hashtag, just sayin”

I love the kid, but it was too much.

The last couple posts I’ve been talking about Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  One of the reasons verses like these are so powerful (AND often so ignored) is because when we begin to take them seriously, they challenge us to our core.  It is virtually impossible to wrestle with this verse and emerge unchanged.  We have to die to the dream of telling the world….”I’m awesome, #just sayin”

In fact, when we try and live this out, we quickly realize that the words of Jesus are true….”out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”   It goes deeper than some speech habits.  We have a heart problem.

What is going on with us?

For me, whenever I ask this question, I am quickly brought back to the Gospel.

In my life I have found these 3 Gospel truths are essential to me having a heart to honor others.  Now yours might be different, but for me, the minute I lose touch with one of these, everything seems to slip into dishonor quickly.

1. I am more broken than I imagine 

This is why I love verses like Romans 12:10, or the sermon on the mount, or any passage that quickly exposes my hypocrisy and pride.  Because for some stupid reason, left on my own, I have this knack for thinking of myself WAY more highly than I ought.  (This has also made Philippians 2 a favorite passage) In the course of life I convince myself that somehow I am doing well.  I am pretty good.  I still have issues, but they aren’t the big ones.   I am old and wise and experienced at the Christian life.  I know many things in my head.  I have cool stories to tell about what God has done.  At least 17 people read my blog.  <insert your resume here>

IN FACT, I’m becoming such a big deal that I’m not sure I have time to honor some of these folks around me.   To look people in the eye….or say thank you…or ‘how are you?…or show an interest in their lives.  I’m sure someone else will do that.  That’s not my role…I have done enough.

It is pretty ugly stuff.

Yes, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us & empowering us to live lives of holiness and love.  But our sinful nature has not been put to death fully has it?  And it rears its ugly head often.  Far more than we’d like to confess….

I recently read a quote from John Newton.  He was pretty hard core.  He described this reality this way….

This evil is present within me: my heart is like a highway, like a city without walls or gates.  Nothing so false, so frivolous, so absurd, so impossible, so horrid, but it can obtain access, and that at the time, or in any place: neither the study, the pulpit, or even the Lord’s table, exempt me from their intrusion.

there is so much to say here, but the bottom line is this…pride is counter to the Gospel.  I am never too important to show honor to anyone.

2. I have received more grace than I ever thought possible

And yet, the Lord is good to me.   In those moments of brokenness I go back to one of the first verses I memorized as a young Christian….

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God,be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

– I Timothy 1:15-17 ESV

What a joy this creates in me.  To know that in the midst of my weakness and brokenness, there is redemption.  There is hope.  And that joy generates genuine affection and thankfulness.  And love.  “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.”   We love and appreciate Christ…we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength….and this produces in us the ability to love our neighbor as ourselves.

3. I am free

God has said I am forgiven.  Not because of my righteous works, but because of Christ’s work on the cross.  AND He has given me something else.  He has imputed me with the righteousness of Christ.  My identity is now secure.  It has been established by the creator Himself.  It is unshakeable and unassailable.

Why is that important?  It means I can stop looking to people for my identity and security.

For freedom Christ has set us free.” – Galatians 5:1

What are we free from?  So many things.  No time to discuss all of that now.

But one thing for sure, is that we are free to say goodbye to the rat race of this world.  This game, this contest to try and impress our peers.  To strive to get the honor and respect and love of those around us.  To feed on the affirmation of others.

We desperately want people to notice.  Notice my looks….my wisdom….my knowledge….my godliness….my facebook pictures….

Imagine being free from that.

Imagine we don’t NEED anything from people anymore.

What a lot of mental energy this would free up!  We could actually use some of that to think about OTHER PEOPLE. How to love & honor THEM.

As we understand our identity in Christ, we are able to freely give honor to our brother & sisters

And we can finally put our “I’m awesome, #just sayin’” T-shirts away.


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