This is my third or fourth try at this thought. The past months have brought all kinds of things to mind: first, COVID-19, then the protests, the violence, and the political wrangling for votes already at this point. Again and again I wanted to respond.
So I started writing, just to get some of the thoughts out of my head and on the computer. But every time I started, I ended up rambling. Thankfully the computer is patient and doesn’t hold any grudges, but I wasn’t so sure about those who might read what I wrote. Another advantage of the computer is that I can hit “Delete” and no one will see any of it.
I do want to say something, however. I continue to live in this world of turmoil, conflict, and danger. I live here as a Christian and belong to the One who has redeemed me and made me his child by his undeserved love and forgiveness.
I don’t have to look far to find what is imperfect. It resides within me and within everyone else too.
The reality that strikes me so often, perhaps even more recently, is that I live in an imperfect world with imperfect people at all levels. I don’t say that with any superiority. I’m one of those people. Within me, I feel anger, rage, and frustration build. My own thoughtless rush to judgment shames me. I sense that selfish motives and an absence of love for others live within me. I find my sinful flesh eager to suffocate efforts to listen to others with kindness and respect. With Paul, I confess, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18).
So I don’t have to look far to find what is imperfect. It resides within me and within everyone else too as Paul also reminds us: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
But that’s not the bleak end of it all. Paul tells me, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What a treasure that is! I am loved and touched by his undeserved and boundless love.
That changes me. It changes every Christian. It can change every human. By his forgiveness and love, I find the power to overcome all the evil within and do the good he desires. It’s not a one-time fix. It’s an ongoing construction project. Each board of the new me is nailed in place with a view of his cross. Those boards may get torn down again as the evil within asserts itself, but his love helps me rebuild in an ongoing renovation.
The project will continue as long as I live here in this imperfect world with an imperfect nature within me. This is not where I belong. God has built a better place for me and all humans. It’s a place where we leave all these imperfections behind. Jesus is the way there. No one gets there except by him (John 14:6), but the door is not barred to anyone who trusts him.
But for now I live here and strive to overcome my faults, my anger, my prejudices, my weaknesses. Like other believers, in the effort to overcome our own faults and live like his disciples, we all can shine like stars in the sky in a dark and crooked world (Philippians 2:15).
Trouble will persist. Yet I know Jesus rules all things for my good and the good of other believers. I shake my head when I see and hear the latest news, and I console myself by trusting his care and direction.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 107, Number 08
Issue: August 2020