A song for the barely-sinner

I grew up in church. My family wasn’t just half-bootied Sunday morning service people, either. We did Sunday school AND Sunday night AND Wednesday night church, too ! #holy I’m glad we did, for many reasons. Most of my best friends growing up were from church. We knew everyone. People actually noticed when we went on vacation. There were several members – especially some older couples – who I know genuinely loved me and my family. Why else would Mr. Moreland always offer me a piece of red hot gum with a twinkle in his eye, or Mrs. Daugherty give me the bestest warm squishy hugs?

There were a few downsides to being raised in a fairly idyllic environment surrounded by amazing people. One of them was having a really hard time recognizing the weight of God’s grace. I remember having a true crisis when I was about 8, confessing to my mom with sincere guilt, “But I really can’t think of anyway that I’ve sinned!”*

Even now, having been through some shtuffs that definitelyyyy involved some less-than-spiritual-perfection, I have a really hard time not falling into a weird sort of good-girl legalism. This shows up the most when something I want is delayed or denied, while someone I have unconcsciously deigned more sinful than me** does get that thing. Absolutely infuriates me. I have to read Prodigal God by Tim Keller to get me to wind down. #thankyoutim 

This entire ramble was inspired by this song I heard today, which is so entirely perfect for my type of barely-sinner*** heart that I must share.. I MUST !! Sometimes a gallo needs art – in this specific case, musicals – to express for her what she didn’t even know she wanted to express.

(Strongly recommend just listening)

Not in me by Eric Schumacher and David L. Ward

No list of sins I have not done,
No list of virtues I pursue,
No list of those I am not like
Can earn myself a place with You.
O God, be merciful to me–
I am a sinner through and through!
My only hope of righteousness
Is not in me, but only You.
 
No humble dress, no fervent prayer,
No lifted hands, no tearful song,
No recitation of the truth
Can justify a single wrong.
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And He alone can give me rest.
 
No separation from the world,
No work I do, no gift I give
Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands;
I cannot cause my soul to live.
But Jesus died and rose again–
The power of death is overthrown!
My God is merciful to me
And merciful in Christ alone.
 
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And He alone can give me rest.

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* THAT is no longer a problem…

**it’s okay if you lowkey or highkey hate me for this post. Keeping it real y’all

*** I say this tongue and cheekily!

Singles Conference Debunks Grace Myth

“Now, I am free to quickly judge instead of bothering with the drudgery of loving someone who has made mistakes.”

grace

Atlanta, GA – Thousands of Atlanta singles poured into Germinate Georgia Church this weekend to attend a conference on Singlehood, Dating, and Marriage by visiting pastor Rev. Bobby Jehosephat Murray. Intrigued by the enthusiastic tweets that had popped up on my twitter feed (“Revolutionary!” and “Murray on Fire! #SDMConference”), I loitered outside of Germinate Georgia Church on the night of the last session and was able to snag a few attendees for an interview.

Amanda Jackson, who drove all the way from Chattanooga TN to attend the conference, raved “Reverend Murray did an excellent job explaining how romantic relationships fall outside of the overarching message of Christianity. If I hadn’t attended the conference, I never would have understood these special exemptions.” Intrigued, I asked her to expand on this idea. “Well, I was always taught that Jesus’ death, life, and resurrection meant that I didn’t have to live in guilt and shame about my past, but could live in freedom. But Rev. Murray explained that while that’s mostly true for all other types of behaviors that hurt myself and others, there’s no true forgiveness for sexual sin. And, we should make sure that we frequently remind and judge each other for our past mistakes.”

She rolled up her sleeve excitedly, to show freshly inked tattoos that she had felt led to get after a particularly guilt-inducing conference session. I peered closely to read the delicate cursive in neat rows, surprised to find a list of juicy tidbits, such as “Made out in the backseat of C.S.’s car, 04/03/09” and “Allowed E.C. to cop a feel, 03/25/10”. Amanda continued glowingly “I got these to ensure that I never get cocky about where I stand in the family of God. Now if I ever start to feel free, or a good man starts to pursue me, I have an easy reminder of who I really am and how I don’t deserve any blessings.” An additional bonus, she added, was that now her brothers in Christ could quickly read through her past failures and save themselves from being tainted by her waywardness.

Amanda’s friend Dan Bowman, a friend of Amanda’s who attended the conference with her (they drove in separate cars), was particularly approving of his friend’s tattoos. “As a man who has protected himself from impurity my entire life, I was always a little bummed by the mainstream Christian message that my good works are like filthy rags to God– and that some philandering frat boy who literally decided to follow Jesus yesterday would have the same access to God and His blessings as I did. It never sat right with me.” Dan blew out his breath in exasperation. “But Rev. Murray was so encouraging. Now I know that my behavior has earned me the right to a flawless Christian woman as my wife.” He added, “It’s relieving to know that my hard work is worth something.”

Both Dan and Amanda agreed that another enlightening session had really relieved their anxieties about how to treat anyone they dated. “It was always so messy to try to figure out how to honor someone as a human being instead of just looking at them through the lens of their past,” chimed in Amanda. “Now, I am free to quickly judge instead of bothering with the drudgery of loving someone who has made mistakes.” When I asked them about how Rev. Murray explained the role of Mary Magdalene, Rahab the prostitute, Tamar and others, they both replied in unison, “Liberal propaganda.” Dan then offered me a gloved hand – kindly explaining he has a strict rule of no skin-to-skin contact with a female outside of his family – and he and Amanda headed off into the night (Amanda asked me to pointedly note that her Dad was also present).

For more information on this new theology, stay tuned for Rev. Murray’s new book “Sexual Sin: Debunking the grace myth” coming out this Spring.