Ansell: Let people see you and see Jesus

KEN ANSELL

British writer and lay theologian C.S. Lewis said, “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”

Ken Ansell

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the impact of the pandemic on me, or maybe I’m right that the world has gotten darker around us.  I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, but I see more and more contradictory posts that leave me confused. One post will be about someone’s spiritual life (you would think they lived in a church building), and the next post is people posting about their sin like it’s a Boy Scout merit badge. I ran across 1st John 2:6 last week, “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.”  There’s a daily goal and a badge worth earning (let people see you and see Jesus).  

My celebrity pastor friend tells the story about a man that came into his office, and he said he wanted to confess his sins.  My friend said, “Okay” and he listened for about 30 minutes and then he finally said, “Sir, you are not confessing, you are bragging.” Conviction is good, confessing is good, but too often we come up short when it comes to repentance (change, transformation).

I grew up in a Christian home, and I saw my parents live out their faith in the greatest possible way. I also grew up in a theological legalistic home, so I try to balance my thoughts with grace (God’s unmerited favor) and my continuing recovery from being a Pharisee. My point is, I thought we stop boasting about our failures in high school (1st Corinthians 1:31 we are told, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”)?  I want to brag about God’s work in my life, the spiritual successes, not the times I could not keep it together. I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone else; I always want to be a help not a hindrance to someone else who is struggling. I’m going to sound old fashioned, and I am old, cynical and tired, but I liked it better when we hid our sin (just so you know, I know hiding our sin is not the answer either). Does anyone remember those days?   

Last time I checked, Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins, and He died so I could be free from sin. In other words, sin should not control my life; sure we will stumble, but it should be the exception and not the rule - does that make sense?  In Romans 6 starting at verse 1, the Apostle Paul asked the Church at Rome, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. … present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, …” Eugene Peterson paraphrases verse 14 when he writes, “Sin can’t tell you how to live.  After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.”

I hear Jesus on a regular basis say to me, “Kenny, do you want to keep making mud pies in the gutter or would you like to experience my glory here and now? I have so much more for you than the cycle of sin and confess, sin and confess.” Then I hear Him say, “It’s not easy but you can do it because I will strengthen you (Philippians 4:13).” Let’s go! He told me to tell you that.