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!

Christian folk: You ain’t broke so stay woke

Some Christians seem to thrill themselves with repeatedly announcing that they are “broken,” and praise other Christians who are open about their own brokenness. Maybe Christians take on these disparaging adjectives to distance themselves from self-righteous bluster, or to stay humble (e.g. “I’m no better than you, homeless prostitute! #humble #blessed). I get that, I do. But ultimately, it’s complete nonsense. Here is why —

Uno – it’s not humility that’s spurring this “brokenness” talk, it’s usually a declaration of absolved responsibility. People know they’re screwing up and weak, but instead of making steps towards repentance, they want to make sure everyone knows they are so completely helpless there is no way they could have *not* made that terrible decision.

Duo – Christians are not supposed to take on our weaknesses as our identity. Even the field of psychology is ahead of the curve with this —

If a person recovers from or is recovering from cancer, do we refer to him or her as “being the cancer?” No, we do not, because we know that cancer is something that one can recover from and isn’t necessarily permanent. Many are hopeful that, as with the majority of cancer prognoses, the individual will eventually be cancer-free. What is more, the cancer does not define the individual’s existence while battling with the disease or after recovery.

When someone with mental illness is labeled as “OCD” or “bipolar,” there is that perception that being “bipolar” sums up his or her whole existence. We do not take into consideration the person’s actions (good or bad) because in our minds, our perception on the label he or she has been given is our basis. Even worse, the individual who is labeled often internalizes the tag to the point that they feel that their entire entity is summarized with it.

from an article edited and reviewed by psychologist R. Y. Langham, M.M.F.T., Ph.D Full length article here

This is not to say that we ignore our weaknesses. But we confess them to each other so that other people can exhort (what a great word!) us, and we can repent! I almost hesitate to use the word repent because it conjures up an image of a hypocritical, salivating evangelical preacher, but I love the word because it doesn’t just mean “feel bad about what you did” it means “to turn.” Repentance isn’t about feeling self-deprecating guilt, it’s about doing a 180. If we do emphasize our past and present weaknesses, let’s do it to emphasize the joy and hope that God has/will triumph(ed) through them (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Trio – let me give you a list of verses in the biblio that talk about how broken– as in dysfunctional — Christians are.

 

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There you go. Good stuff.

But wait..

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed

– Isaiah 53:5

 

 

And [Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.

– Luke 22:19

Wait, what’s that?! Jesus was broken… so that we could be broken, too?

Nah.

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

– Hebrews 10:14

Jesus was broken so that we even have the possibility of sanctification – aka holiness, aka NOT BROKEN. Not only did Jesus break so we don’t have to, but he didn’t stay broke either. So the “Omigersh I’m so broken” talk does not belong anywhere in the gospel narrative.

Broken is what we were. Let’s embrace who we are now, and start dead-sprinting toward the wholeness and function we were made for– through grace alone!*

⚡️⚡️⚡️

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

General notes

  • There’s a place for broken-heartedness, or being contrite — but I’m talking about broken as in dysfunctional. 
  • I understand to a non-Christian absolutely all of this is nonsense. That’s okay with me. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s super encouraging.

*1 Cor. 6:11; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Tim 3:17; Galations 3:3

 

Chronic smoker grateful for support of Alternative Health Community

ATLANTA- Local resident Hank Womack has been smoking for the past 29 years. At first, he was suffocated by a judgmental community of “health experts” and anti-health family members who constantly tried to shove their own views on air quality and lung function down his throat. “They could see how much I got a kick out of smoking, but still they wanted to take it away from me. Probably because they are scared and don’t really understand cigarettes or lung function,” Hank confided in me. “I mean, at first I tried to quit. But it was mighty hard to impossible. If quitting is that hard, then continuing has to be good for me… This is who I am- Hank the Smoker.”
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Hank continued to explain that he grew up in a family that was brainwashed by Western medicine, and were completely closed minded to alternative views on smoking. His family, in the name of health, would subject him to odious lectures on cigarette toxicity, even going so far as to suggest he end friendships with other habitual smokers. So when Hank was about 32 years old, he cut family ties and found an alternative health community that recognized inhaling tar in your lungs as a legitimate form of breathing. “They welcomed me with open arms.. made me feel comfortable,” Hank wheezed.
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This small but dedicated alternative health community reanalyzed and reinterpreted decades of research on smoking, and a panel of chronic smokers concluded that the findings of these studies were being inappropriately applied to smokers. One of their major conclusions is that most studies were done on the harmful effects of smoking Salem cigarettes in night clubs, whereas most smokers now enjoy Marlboros in parks with their families. “This is a radically different context than the context of these landmark studies. Therefore, we reject the general consensus of the medical community that cigarettes are harmful for health,” they issued in an official statement.
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Hank added his own logic, “I feel so good when I smoke.. how can anything that makes me feel this good not be good for me?” He paused for a brief fit of coughing, which ended with him hacking blood into a napkin. “Nothing would be more anti-health than taking these away from me,” he finally rasped. This is in line with his alternative health community’s tag line “Healthy is What Makes You Happy.”
Hank plans to dedicate the rest of life freeing other smokers from the dogma of the mainstream medical community.