Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fearfully Made, and Fearfully Marred

A friend of mine had this as her recent "status update":
I was humbled and asked myself why Holiness would choose dirt, why Royalty would choose poverty, why the Great Provider would choose lack, and ultimately, why God would choose my ugly heart as His dwelling place.
Then one of her friends responded:
Because it's beautiful just like you you are fearfully and wonderfully made..don't you eva forget it girl
I don't know the commenter and don't want to intrude on a FB conversation with theological scolding or something, but I've got to say, God did not choose to dwell in my friend's heart because she is fearfully and wonderfully made. If so, since we are all fearfully and wonderfully made from the start, there would have never been a problem with his living in us. And there would never have been a need for the cross.

Ah well, this is typical "encouragement" in the Christian world. To tell people how wonderful they are. On a perhaps somewhat related note, David Wayne has a thoughtful post called Words of Comfort for the Dying. In this post David is recounting a dialog from a book called Hammer of God. A man on his death bed, who has spent his life trying to cultivate a clean heart before God, is still plagued by the memory of his sin. David writes,
Johannes was trying to cultivate a right heart, a clean heart, before God, but that this is a work. This is a subtle but important point to make especially given the fact that it is common in our day to exhort one another to cultivate a clean "heart" before God. But even this is detour as the emphasis is on our work of cultivation, and it causes us to trust in a clean heart as the basis of our acceptance before God, rather than trusting in Christ.
But Johannes has a friend, Katrina, who is willing to share the Gospel truth with the dying man. Johannes asks her:
"But why, then, have I not received a clean heart?"
"That you might learn to love Jesus," said the woman as calmly as before.
My friend's status update demonstrated an understanding of all this, but her friend rushing in to "encourage" her with talk of how wonderful she is misses the crucial point. Does the dying man need to be told how wonderful he is, or does he need to be told that while he was a sinner, and in the full knowledge of his sin, Christ died for him. How much better than that can encouragement get?

Last comment. Isn't this the problem that the people of God face and have always faced: the seeking of an alternative message that will downplay the supposed "negativity" of the Gospel. But we are all dying men and women, and we need a real reason for hope, not falsely encouraging fluff. Positive thinking will no longer do.

And that's the real reason Christmas is a joyous day. Happy Christmas!

1 comment:

Erin Hope said...

In realizing our weakness we are strong, because it is then that we are most fully dependent on grace not of our own making... and on someone outside of ourselves.
I especially like your last comment. Have you ever noticed that it's often the uncomfortable, hard, even 'negative' things that are said that are in fact the most encouraging/needed? But I think it is actually silly that we regard such things as a negative message.... yeah, it would be negative if it were only left at 'our hearts are horrible and sinful, etc...' But it doesn't end there. It ends with 'but God still chooses us- in spite of, in the midst of, because his love eclipses it all, his love swallows it all....and in fact that kind of love is the only thing that can change those 'ugly hearts'' is the only thing to have joy in that can't be stolen.

thanks for the 'negative' encouragement!