Thursday, February 22, 2007

Falling away

Lent Day 3

Matthew 26.31 This very night you will all fall away on account of me....

Jesus knew that he lived a life that was easily perceived as scandalous. By that, I mean that Jesus recognized the profound 'other-ness' of his life and especially his death. I marvel at the strength of Christ as he approaches Gethsemane and, ultimately, Calvary. He looks into the eyes of the naive fishermen, zealots, and tax collectors who were his intimates. In his moments of approaching crisis he sees in their eyes the stumbling block (skandlon-grk) and recognizes that for all their devotion and all their love- they will fail him. "You will ALL fall away..."

I am one of those who has fallen from total devotion at times. Whether it be drifting from divine purpose or flirting with sin or even, upon occassion, outright rebellion against my savior. Many times I have come to realize that God knows that he asks a lot of me. He recognizes that we are water, dirt and spirit. That our frailty and failure to embrace his purpose,our dullness to grasp his plan, our impatience with the divine timetable is inborn within us. Yet he has built into this scandolous life a fail safe. We may return after our failure.

The church of the later first century had difficulty with this notion. Those who failed to confess Christ while under duress in the persecutions were not allowed to be baptized or back into full fellowship in many churches. They had failed. Imagine the shame! Cowardous and broken by the governmental persecutors they returned to the church to find further condemnation for their actions. Now I am sure there are consequences for all our actions. But I believe that those churches missed the point. We will all fall away... perhaps not in persecution, but is it any different to deny his greatness by our lukewarm discipleship, or our half baked justification of our sins?

Later in the book of 1 John the prescription for our ills is listed. If we say we have no sin we make God a liar but if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us. Herein is the secret to healing- the confession of sins. It is probably the least practiced spiritual discipline of the Protestant church. When was the last time you made a written list of your sins, great and small? Have you ever laid it all out? There is power in the soul searched!

The result of the search of our souls has to be an appreciation for God's infinite grace upon our spotted and tainted souls. Thank God he made a way for those of us who fall away to be whole and clean once again!

1 John 1:8-10 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. NIV

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