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« For the sake of the Story | Main | "...and please, try not to sin." »

Misguided "authenticity"

Here's a quote from a missional church leader I have a great deal of respect for.  However, notice his self-description:  Is it biblical?...meaning, is it a true and accurate description of his identity in Christ?

I consider myself as the most miserable of all human beings, covered with sores, foul, and guilty of all sorts of crimes committed against my King; moved by sincere remorse I confess all my sins to him.  I ask him pardon and abandon myself into his hands so he can do with me as he pleases.  Far from chastising me, this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me, seats me at his table, waits on me himself, gives me the keys to his treasures, and treats me in all things as his favorite; he converses with me and takes delight in my countless ways ....Although I beg him to fashion me according to his heart, I see myself still weaker and miserable, yet even more caressed by God.

There's certainly a lot of grace here, but little restoration.  (At least, not mentioned here.)  What kind of God would pardon a person, then refuse to change them at the most basic level (the level of the heart), so that they need not repeat those crimes; and in fact, no longer have it in their nature to do so?

In fact, God has already met this person's longing to "fashing me according to his heart"  ..."I will give you a new heart."  (Ezek. 36:26).  That new heart is pregnant with new life, new desires, and a new will.  How else would he be able to relate well, if not for a transformed heart?  Sure, it will take time to learn to live from that new and supernaturally good heart -- but that will come. 

I'm concerned with a brand of 'authenticity' and 'realness' out there that takes grace seriously ("You're forgiven and loved"), but is unaware of the gracious gift of a new and radically good heart.  These attempts at being real are noble and certainly well-intended, but have missed the core of the New Covenant promise of a new heart -- a heart on which the ways of God are now written.  Why do we keep rehearsing our mess?

We must be urged to make the shift from external and behavioral compliance to internal and supernaturally-capable desire to love and relate well.  Most Christians are unaware that that shift has already happened ...within their own hearts. The desire and the ability to relate well and love wholly are there.

Let's bring this good news back to the center of our teaching, preaching and relating.  Only then will we see more of the transformation we long for.  Let's stop rehearsing our shame, and begin indulging our new appetites -- the desires of Jesus now resident in our new hearts.

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Reader Comments (5)

Why do we keep rehearsing our mess. I know that old things have past away and all things have become new. I'm starting to catch on Jim. Great post, you are a good writer.

May 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRick Dolen

For me it a question of being in process. I am still learning to live by and trust my new heart. Because I have not reached my destination, I often take action that is not from my new heart. If I am harsh with my kids when I shouldn't have been, I need to be mature enough to acknowledge my mistake, confess to them in order that our relationship can be as full and as life-giving as possible. A problem would occur if I continually asked for forgiveness for actions they have already forgiven me for. They would think me strange, and I would not be growing the relationship by acting that way. So, I think we need to make sure that, we are aware of ourselves and our actions towards God and those around us, be willing to ask for forgivness, and move on.

May 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersteve

Rick, thanks for the kind words! Keep posting.
Steve, I'm right there with you. I'm brought to the verge of tears -- often -- as I reflect on how I have and can continue to wound people I love. I'm learning to learn that that isn't my good heart any longer, nor my truest nature. But it sure can hurt when I don't live congruent with that new heart.

May 11, 2009 | Registered CommenterJim Robbins

Mr. Robbins, I heard your interview with Steve Brown this past week on his program, and the hymn that keeps going through my mind to liken what you said is Be Thou My Vision. The vision is something not still but constant, moving, creating, forming, comforting, guiding, teaching, correcting, etc. The whole purpose of our being is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength, and neighbor as we love our self.. The new heart and God writing on it is His giving us the tools we need for that stage of life in which we find ourselves. I find this much more nurturing and refreshing than to stay stuck in "The good that I would do, I don't." Romans 7. It allows me to keep on enjoying my fave sins which one day will come back on me and be my demise. So glad your site and you are here to encourage believers.. Will mention you on my blog, bro!! My user name is Mellow Roc.

July 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Russell

Hey Mellow Roc! Thanks for the kind words. "Be Thou My Vision" is one of my favorites. ...and, since you listen to SBE, you won't have to worry about those favorite sins since Steve will give you 3 free sins. (Just don't go over the limit.) :)

July 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbins

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