Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More on confessing ourselves--the church

Peter K. Nelson says that both suffering and failure are a part of discipleship. If the church in the West were more open about confessing our own shortcomings, he says, the world would turn its eyes from "sloppy saints" to the source of our salvation:
The dark night of the soul is a means of weaning believers from their destructive dependence on anything but the Lord himself. Contrary to superficial American expectations, God does some of his best work when we can't make life "work," when all the outward measures spell chaos or disaster.

We can take this a step further by adding sin to the equation. The Master turns the tables on corruption from within as well as hardships from without. God's sovereign orchestration of messy lives includes redirecting the momentum from our sinful thoughts and actions toward our ultimate good. When we disobey the Lord and head down a collision course with holiness, eventually there is wreckage: devastated marriages, runaway debt, pretense and deception that hollow out the conscience. By letting us stumble in sin and shatter our brash confidence, by undercutting our self-righteousness and brazen pride, the Lord forces us to accept the soul salve of humility. God positions us to hope in his grace and anticipate heaven's bliss, rather than fall for some slick scheme of glitter and blessings today.
And how do we best grow from our failures?
The way forward for Western and other imperfect Christians is the path of humility and brokenness. Of course, humility and brokenness don't sell very well from the pulpit, not to mention in our society. But that's irrelevant. What matters is that the Lord, in his sovereign ingenuity, wills to teach us trust and humble dependence by bringing us through hardship; trials represent the roundabout, yet only true way toward spiritual maturation. And the Lord includes among these hardships the spiritual turmoil suffered by forgiven sinners who become painfully aware they are far from the peak of holiness.

Update: Swap blog reacts to this post and offers more ideas here.

Update 2: Blogotional adds to the discussion here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always I am stealing your best stuff...** LOL ** Welcome back and good to see you are well. Know that we are praying for you and both your TN and VA family.

8:01 AM, September 21, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Frank, and thanks for your encouragement in being able to use some of the stuff here. Peace.

1:47 PM, September 21, 2005  
Blogger John Schroeder said...

Great Post Milt! Linked to it here

8:22 AM, September 22, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, John.

9:42 AM, September 22, 2005  

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