Sunday, April 17, 2005

Learning to focus

Dory at Wittenberg Gate reminds us of an important lesson we learn from pain:

So often we are hurt by people in our lives that let us down. It could be a parent, a pastor, a teacher, a spouse, a public hero or a friend. Perhaps there is no greater pain we can inflict upon another as when we betray a trust, when we who should be friends act like enemies. Yet we are fallen creatures, and even redeemed and converted souls are, in this life, bound to sinful flesh and prone to stumble. It is when we forget that truth and put too much trust in a person, and not enough in God, that we are most vulnerable to disappointment.

Any other view of man is unrealistic and unbiblical. The Bible tells us the tales of many human heroes, and yet it also tells us of the shortcomings of those heroes. Jacob was a schemer. David was a murderer. Peter denied the Lord three times. Yet all were used by an always-faithful, never-failing God to accomplish His perfect purposes. So we must view the heroes in our lives. The spouse we adore may let us down. The pastor we trust may betray us. The teacher who leads us may lead us astray. But if, when people do let us down, we can remember what the Bible says about man, we can say, "My Father told me it would be so. Let God be true and every man a liar."

It's encouraging for those of us who still struggle with sin to remember that even the great heroes of the Bible tended to have major character flaws. On the other hand, if even the greatest among us is sinful and flawed, where can we find any hope for real goodness? Seeing Christians in positions of authority sinning can be particularly devastating, Dory notes, and cause some to reject the faith altogether:

The solution to these errors is to remove our focus from men and return it to Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. . . . We must keep our Savior in view and walk on the path He illuminates before us. When the day comes, as it inevitably will, that we are the ones who stray, let us hope that our friends will love us enough to call us back, and let us pray that God will not allow us to cause others to stumble.

That's easy to say, but so hard to do. Oh Lord, may we, your people, seek first your Kingdom and your righteousness.


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