The Christian life is not sanitized.
This might seem like a somewhat obvious statement for some. All one has to do is look at their life and be honest with themselves. We are broken, sinful people that have been saved from the consequences of sin, yet not sin itself. There are those Christians that claim they no longer struggle with sin, what they don't realize is in saying that, they have sinned. The Christian life is full of grime, filth and inconsistencies. There are those that claim this this isn’t a reality, but there are others that sanitize the Christian life. There are those that do their best to dumb down the affect and consequences of sin in their lives. There are those that try to make Christianity look clean and tidy, when in reality it’s a bloody battle where limbs are lost, throats are cut and the massacre looks like a Mel Gibson movie. Christianity is not about looking like we’ve got everything put together. It’s not about looking like we don’t struggle with sin. It’s not about appearing a certain way or trying to make it look like we aren’t putting the old man to death every second. Christianity is bloody. It’s time we stop hiding the blood.
I remember listening to a pastor give a sermon about sin and the Christians’s struggle against it. He went on to give an example of his life were he “struggled with some bad sin.” He told a story about standing in line at the grocery store and a lady in line had a toddler that was doing what toddlers do. The pastor went on to describe in “graphic” details his complete and total frustration over the situation. He finished the story and went on to describe how this Christian life is a battle against such things. I remember sitting in the pew wondering when the “graphic” part was going to start. I quickly realized that the story was over and we had moved on to the next point. That was it? That’s all he had? He got frustrated in a grocery store line? This was the extent of the affect of sin in his life? This pastor was either so close to Heaven that I couldn’t see him or he was dumping a thousand gallons of bleach over his war with sin. Either way, that is not something I can relate to.
Now, being frustrated at your circumstances is not good. It is the manifestation of sin yes. I’m not saying that he wasn’t struggling with sin. I’m just saying that using that as an example of the Christian’s fight against their flesh is like using an egg to describe the Trinity. It gives a very vague picture and might produce deeper conversations, but at the end of the day “that’s modalism Patrick” and it doesn’t help anyone. It just makes things more confusing. It’s a sanitized Christianity and it makes people like me who struggle with life-binding sins feel pretty hopeless and alone. Is there anyone out there like me?
I can’t relate to someone who’s greatest struggle is getting frustrated at the grocery store. Only struggling with frustration is a good day for me. I have to look way up to get to that level. No, my sin runs way deeper and way darker than simple frustration. More than often I feel like the Psalmist when he says in 119:25,
“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!”
My soul clings to the dust because of my sin. My soul melts because of sorrow. I need to know there are people out there that are struggling with sin to the level that I am. The fight against sin is not this sanitized nonsense that so many are trying to make it out to be. It’s a fight to the death against your flesh that wants to drag back into the hell that you were in before Christ. It’s a fight against the lust of the eyes that so carefully and sweetly pull at my desires and affections. It’s a fight against the pride of life that causes me to see myself better than literally everyone around me. It’s a fight against the desire to only care about myself and what I want. I need to hear from these people. I need to hear from the man that struggles with his lust daily. I need to hear from the woman who struggles with hate and malice because of past abuse. I need to hear from the preacher who struggles to love his congregation or who has been the victim of a congregation that didn’t love him. I need to hear from Christians that don’t try to hide the blood. I need to hear Christians who are honest about their sin and actually boast in their weakness, instead of trying to hide it. 1 Corinthians 12:9 says,
“But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Realize something, when you try to sanitize sin and make the struggles of the Christian smaller, you are actually doing damage to the Gospel. Why would someone think they need Christ if the greatest thing a Christian struggles with is frustration? That doesn’t seem that bad. But, if we are real with ourselves and others, the Gospel becomes something that is needed more than anything. The Gospel is needed so badly because we are really, really bad people. Don’t lessen the price that Christ paid by sanitizing the reason He came. He came to save me because I am a miserable wretch that returns to his filth and vomit everyday for a meal. I am the wretch that seeks pleasure in sin and satisfaction in misery. I am the sinner that it seems a lot of Christians want to hide and only bring out once the company has left. That’s why the Gospel is so important to me. I need it really badly. I need it to cover way more than frustration.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Hebrews 10:22 gives me the hope of Christ. It tells me that even as filthy as I am, there is grace. It tells me that where my sin increased to the point of self-destruction, grace abounded all the more. This Christian life is not a sanitized one. It’s full of pain, sin, and gross stuff. We need more Christians to acknowledge this. We need more Christians who are not afraid to show who they really are. We need more Christians who will admit to their failings and dreadful acts of rebellion. We need more Christians who will stand up and say “yeah, I’m pretty messed up. Here’s how.” We need more Christians who will point to their sin and yell from the rooftops that it has been covered by Christ. We need more Christians who aren’t afraid to get real and vulnerable about their sin so that Christ might become even more real to those that are listening. I want to be that kind of Christian. I want to be able to talk about my sin in a way that disgusts people, because that’s what sin should do.
I want people to know that I am really messed up so that they will look at the change in my life and know that it’s only through Christ. Reader know this, I am really messed up. I struggle everyday with pride, lust, anger, selfishness, conceit and yes...frustration, but I serve a God that has covered me in His grace. He has looked on me and taken my brokenness and given me life. He knows my sin and cosmic treason and has loved me anyway. He did this not because I somehow deserved it, He did it because He wanted to. He gave me Christ when all I gave Him was hate. He takes my pride, lust and greed and says “here, I’ll trade you.” He takes my sin and gives me His righteous robes to wear. That is the God I serve. That is the truth I believe in. That is the un-sanitized, bloody, wonderful Gospel.