The seduction of moralism is the essence of its power. We are so easily seduced into believing that we actually can gain all the approval we need by our behavior. Of course, in order to participate in this seduction, we must negotiate a moral code that defines acceptable behavior with innumerable loopholes. Most moralists would not claim to be without sin, but merely beyond scandal. That is considered sufficient.
To many, the Christian doctrine of conversion appears anything but beautiful. They say it’s coercive—“No one will force their beliefs on me!” Or it’s offensive—“Who are you to say that what I believe and how I live is wrong?”
In those senses, of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The most important thing about doctrine is not whether it’s ugly or beautiful, but whether it’s false or true. That said, the true doctrine of Christian conversion is just plain beautiful.
This is interesting stuff from Darrell Bock.
We are, like my children, desperately needy and utterly dependent upon God, not only to meet our needs but to sustain our faith and grow us into spiritual adulthood. We are called to be Christ-like, but that does not happen at the moment of conversion! Like my children, we need to be teachable, aware of our spiritual child-likeness. This is necessary in our relationship with God. The painful process of making mistakes and learning from them is a long, unpredictable dying to self. By nature we want to be great instantly at this “Christianity thing,” and if we can’t, we pretend that we are to ourselves, to our friends, and even to God. But God knows the state of your heart. He is not fooled, and His expectations for your sanctification are inseparable from the slow slog of reality.
You are NOT like Christ; until you are glorified, you will fail.
I was sitting outside the library at the University of California at Santa Cruz when two other students walked by complaining about Christian faith in the crucifixion of Jesus. As a young Christian with an interest in working with my cohorts to evangelize the campus, I turned my head to hear more. I don’t remember much of what they said except the exclamation of one of the women: “Dying on a cross—it’s just so disgusting.”
This is a hard thing for us, especially as we grow older. We don’t like to look foolish. And we know at this point in our lives where we are likely to succeed and where we may fail. And, typically, it’s less fun to fail. So why do this?
A favorite from the archives:
One of the many dangers of social media is the temptation to say something before you’ve thought it out. A snarky comment or a genuinely witty remark are occasionally the fruit; more often, the result winds up being something, well… unwise. I almost had a moment like that last week. Fortunately, my wife tends to be sitting next to me whenever I’m preparing to send out a tweet. Because she sometimes has a better sense of—how do I put this?—feeling than me, she usually can tell pretty quickly whether something is going to cross the line from funny to offensive.