Dare To Be A Sinner
I am a sinner.
You have heard this before; maybe even you have said it.
Do you believe it? Do you take it seriously?
We have problems admitting our foibles and misdeeds. We hide when we do wrong. We don’t like to think that we need help let alone that we need a savior. We don’t want to be a burden or a freeloader. We like to handle things on our own and this includes our salvation. We want to work for it and have a problem accepting that we are accepted that in Jesus we have made whole and right with God. This is not of our doing, so that we may not boast, but is God’s work. We will never fully experience the wonder of grace unless we admit our sin and need for a savior.
Usually when we say we are a sinner, what we mean is that God is angry with us and is going to punish us. Hell is our lot in life. We are unworthy and nothing we do will make us healthy and whole. We emphasize the bad things that happen and ignore the good that does happen. We say there are no happy endings outside of Hollywood. When something bad happens, we say see God hates me. When something good happens, we look for the bad without enjoying the good.
The first way ignores the truth while the second dwells negatively on sin and denying grace. Both are wrong.
Before I go any further, let’s hear Dietrich Bonhoeffer on this subject.
He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So, everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy…
Alone with sin unable or unwilling to own up to our foibles and misdeeds disconnects our fellowship and blocks God’s radical, unconditional, limitless grace from entering our lives. That is not how life should be lived. Ignoring the truth or dwelling on the negative will render us rootless. There is another way. This other way of living claims and proclaims the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ.
To dare to be a sinner is be honest with who you are, what you have done, and where you are. It is about authenticity and transparency. About knowing you have done things you can never repay the debt you have accrued means you at a loss, broken. Yet, in your brokenness, God loves you as you are and has already forgiven all and reconciled you to heaven.
To dare to be a sinner is to know you operate from brokenness and that it shadows everything. Yet, it is also to open yourself to God’s outpouring of grace. It is to know you are loved and to live from this rather than your brokenness. Is to accept yourself as you are and to accept others as they are too. Is about being true to who you are living in grace rather than sin.
To dare to be a sinner is not pretending to be something you are not and not trying to force others to be who they are not. It is about being OK with who you are willing to transform into all you can be and all God has made you to be in Christ. It is not about sinning but being forgiven. It is about wanting to be the new you.
It is about authenticity, transparency, acceptance, grace, and becoming the real you. Repentance does not earn us God’s love and grace, but opens us up to experiencing it fully.
Martin Luther said, “If grace is true, you must bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”
We will sin. That is not important. Most important is trust in Christ, trust in Christ who is the savior of the world. We need to live towards the grace that has already been lavished on all of us becoming more and more our true, real self. Sin will be no more, but while sin is still in the world, we need to trust that Christ has already done away with it. This trust should manifest in fellowship, prayer, worship, and service.
Dare to be a sinner and accept that all have sinned but we can never be separated from the love of God.
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