Friday, January 22, 2010

The Point of Grace

Mark Galli has posted another thought-provoking article in Christianity Today about how our desires for God to transform us and the world may be masking a real desire for our own alleviation of discomfort at our own sin or sin in the world. This, he argues, is not God-love but self-love which taints even our desire to repent of sin and seek God and his will. Often in Presbyterian liturgies I've heard prayers confessing that we ought to "repent of our repentance." This made sense to me only so far as I thought it was about repenting of any sort of pious effort to gain God's mercy, but Galli's article puts a slightly different, clarifying spin on this notion.*

This leaves me to think about two questions:
1) Why do I desire transformation in my life/his life/her life/the world? Is it because such would truly bring greater honor and pleasure to God my King? Or is it because it would make my life better? In view of my last post, I have to ask: Do I truly hate what is going on in my students' lives because it grieves God, or is it because it's causing them to fail my class and act out, making my job more difficult and not validating me as a competent teacher?

2) When I seek God, confess my sins, and ask for his Holy Spirit to fill me, upon what do I place my hope for salvation and change? The right mindset is that when the day is done, no matter what I may feel, desire, or do, if God isn't gracious to me and the Incarnation and the Cross and the Resurrection aren't true, I'm dead. God alone must save. And he does!
*By the way, in case you're confused after reading this or Galli's article, please do not misread me. I do not believe that our confession of sin and our seeking of God is for nought, nor that human will and action profits nothing before God. The biblical testimony is that God's saving mercy is upon those who turn and cling to him as their sole hope and surety. Galli's point is that we can't find any comfort in our own repentance or sickness of ourselves; our comfort is alone in the God who saves and in his Cross.

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good point. God may make us sick of ourselves and our sin, but it's so we can find him as our Savior, a salvation that frees us up through Jesus to really want to love and pursue him and his will.

I do think, as you alluded to in your last post that a certain kind of groaning in this life as we await full redemption is just a part of life. And part of the tension of the already/not yet of course, and keeps us looking to God and his grace for us and for others through Jesus.