Monday, November 16, 2020

In Spite of Our Sins and Flaws

 


I have given these two tweets quite a bit of thought the last few days. When I see things like this it causes me to stop and think, because I figure if one person is expressing the thought then other people are thinking it.

Each tweet has a thought that needs to be addressed.

First, Mayfield equates the expression of unworthiness with self-hatred. Now, there are times when I have heard worship leaders and pastors lay it on a little thick when it comes to reminding people about not living up to God's glory. Even when we take into consideration the over the top emphasis of our unworthiness, I don't think that equates with self-hatred.

You don't have to hate yourself in order to understand that the love another person has for you is totally undeserved. In many ways, that is the basis of true love. There is nothing you have done to earn the love of the other person.

Even in my best moments, I don't deserve the love my wife and children have for me. Too often I am selfish, moody, and inconsiderate of who they are and what they want. I am not hating myself to admit this reality, but rather grateful for the love they show me, in spite of my flaws.

To acknowledge that God loves us, even when we have rebelled against His will and have failed to bear His image in this world, is not a form of self-hatred. It can be an expression of gratitude for what God has done for us and the blessing He has given. It is an acknowledgement that in spite of our flaws God continues to loves us.

This then transitions into the second tweet. Murray makes the claim that self-hatred is at the heart of the evangelical gospel. Now, I realize that he is trying to say something about the gospel as American evangelicals typically teach it, but he also added "no matter how woke or kind the iteration is,"so I think it is fair evaluate this sentiment based on how I teach the Gospel.

Remember the Gospel is the proclamation of God's Kingdom coming into this world through the person of Jesus Christ. Watch the Bible Project video on Gospel.

To understand the Gospel we have to understand that God created human beings in His image. In other words, we are to be God's representatives in this world. We are to look after God's good creation using His wisdom, love, grace, and all the rest. The only way we can do that is to be connected to God so that His life is flowing through us. 

Sin severs the connection we have with God and instead of living with His wisdom and love, we live according to what we think is best. At the heart of the Gospel is God's love for humans and His plan for us to once again rule with Him in his Kingdom. Through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that connection is restored, allowing us to demonstrate God's character in this world.

Now, if you believe the Gospel is about a God who created people to try to live up to a ridiculously high standard and then condemn and punish them for not doing so,  I can understand why you think the heart of the Gospel is self-hatred. You will feel like Anakin Skywalker in The Attack of the Clones after he slaughtered the Tusken Raiders on Tatooine, "I'm a Jedi, I know I'm better than this." 

To feel like you need to be "better than this" and yet feel powerless to become better will lead you on the path towards self-hatred. Here is an overlooked truth, we can't be better than this. A life lived based on our definitions of good and bad, right and wrong will lead to a world filled with war, abuse, addiction, violence, and oppression. We don't have want it takes to become better.

The beauty of the Gospel is that it is a declaration that God loves us and seeks to renew and restore the connection He has with us. It tells us that we can't be perfect and that we can't bear God's image apart from Him.

The Gospel helps us to understand how unworthy we are of God's love and declares that in spite of our sin and flaws God desires to be in relationship with us. God has not given up on us. Instead, He is working to restore His image in us so we can live out our calling to demonstrate His character in this world.


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