How do you say, “you’re a sinner”, without sounding like you’re making an excuse for your sin, even if you’re not? How you do say, “you’re a saint”, without boasting in it, even though people seem to indicate you should?
There are days when the puzzles that stir within me, come to a head and make the most challenging word jumble you’ve ever seen.
I am a sinner. I don’t suppose one greater than Paul, but I’d really love to say it. I’m sure I’ve committed enough murder in my heart, even if it was just suicides. I am not righteous and even to admit that some would say it’s an act of self-righteousness. I laugh and think your probably right. What good motive could I ever have? My mouth runs far and wide and deeper than most church sermons. My thoughts deeper still. I don’t suppose the trappings of your mind is nearly the cesspool mine is.
As an example, I can say I’ve been hurt by church though not by Jesus, but as much as I want to give a list of things that hurt me I can only say,”I suck worse, Christ paid for it and that’s it”. The reality is that if I’ve been hurt by church, I’m probably the one who put myself there to begin with. Again, the mouth doth speak volumes when the mute button should hath been pressed.
It makes me wonder if I’m forgiven by Christ. Not because he won’t or can’t forgive a guy like me, but because I haven’t “shown” how true I am to this faith. I know it’s a false dichotomy, but don’t we all engage in it, even just a little? Whether it’s, “have I done enough for a neighbor” or “planted enough churches”, don’t we all in the recesses of our minds think even slightly, “this will prove my worth to Him?” If we say no, we don’t do that, aren’t we all just big fat liars? “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves”. Those words are offensive, at least, they are to me even as I speak them. They are offensive to the one who won’t outwardly admit they feel the need to justify their faith with works, or by thinking they have to be able to reason better than most. They are offensive to the one who calls himself the “anti-Christian” Christian, who believes he justifies himself by calling Jesus a rebel and then “acting” like him. It’s offensive to the one who tells you from to pulpit to justify your faith by stepping out from your beggar clothes or give up some lust of the eyes, even though they must know the images plays on the inside, revealing that you’ve given up nothing but the outside of your cup.
There are days I would want to walk away, but something grips me tighter, fear I suppose, if I’m to be honest, but still more. Something God calls me, outside of myself. A label I did not earn, I cannot add to and don’t deserve. A saint. He calls me set apart. Not by any choice of my own, because we know there is no one that chooses God. No one that seeks after him. Yet, he came for me. He showed it by coming as a baby, by the life he lived, the death he died. He hung on a cross and turned to a sinner beside him, who was unable to earn an ounce of worth and said you’ll be with me in paradise. Jesus finds this treasure, this pearl, on a cross next to him. He finds each one of us, a treasure, a pearl of great price, in a field, hidden away. We are the sheep he brings back, the coin that’s found. We are the wheat that At first can look like tares, If… we’re honest and we wait anxiously for him to separate us, hoping sometimes that our faith in Christ is true so he knows for sure which pile we belong too.
A Saint he calls me? It’s not like he doesn’t know what he’s got. A “treasure” of wood with a bit of rot, at best. But he holds it up, cracked and faded and calls it an heirloom to be put on his mantle. A prize to rejoice over.
I do not boast in my title saint, but I do boast in the one who calls this sinner that.
I am all those things, I am sinner and saint.
I am defeated AND a victor because in my defeat, he reigns.