Friday, June 04, 2010

On Default Positions

Have you ever noticed that holiness is not the Christian's default position? In other words, sin is not an occasional lapse for us born agains, who are otherwise strikingly moral and righteous to the core.

For example, you decide you're not going sit in the seat of scoffers any longer. You do pretty well with that for a day or too, and give yourself a little pat on the back, informing your friends of another holiness echelon you've just achieved. But then, well, a day comes when, without even noticing, you slide back into the old patterns. Easy as sipping milk.

Or, on a more positive note, you commit yourself to letting your light so shine before men that they praise their Father in Heaven. By the end of the week, taking stock, you have to admit that no one has praised their Father in Heaven because of your little light. What happened?

This problem . . . you'd think it would garner more attention among us than it does. Sin remains the default position of the flesh. We have no grounds for triumphalism, even the subtle kind where we teach others by way of our own stellar example.

Reading Mark 2 this morning, I notice that Jesus, though he's healing folks right and left, doesn't seem to think that illness is the main problem he came to solve. Apparently, sin is the main problem. It's just something you notice again and again when you read the Gospels. Sin is a much bigger issue for Jesus than it seems to be for us. We preoccupy our prayer time asking for healing, comfort, and special favors for our children, when our need for forgiveness is the real issue.

In additon: Read Greg Gilbert on the Cross and the Kingdom. This is a more thorough and judicious unpacking of the same point. In a nutshell,
it is the cross—and the cross alone—which is the gateway to the blessings of the kingdom. That’s how you put all this together. You don’t get the blessings of the kingdom unless you come into them through the blood of the King. Therefore if you preach a sermon or write a chapter on the good news of the kingdom, but neglect to talk about the cross, you’ve not preached good news at all. You’ve just shown people a wonderful thing that they have no right to be a part of because they are sinners. That’s why we never see Jesus preaching, “The kingdom of God has come!” No, it’s always, “The kingdom of God has come! Therefore repent and believe!” He didn’t just preach the coming of the kingdom. He preached the coming of the kingdom and the way people could enter it.
Why do we so often preach (and write and talk) about kingdom realities (like healing), at the expense of the Cross?