Today is Halloween. There are lots of different opinions on this. I remember walking with my neighbor, Paul, around the blocks with a flock of kids. It was fun. Good memories.
My daughter and I went to see Crowder last Saturday. I tell you, I was really impressed. He uses a wide genre, all within the scope of Christianity. A noticable theme threaded through it all is that of “a sinner” who is redeemed by God through the blood of Jesus. In fact, many of his songs label himself as a sinner. We don’t use that terminology much. Perhaps it has a negative connotation, one of condemnation rather than forgiveness. I get that. At the same time, there is something very appealing to using the label, “sinner.”
This all is in perspective to whom we are focusing our attention. You see, we typically picture a finger pointing at the “sinner.” We don’t want to come across as accusatory for many reasons. We despise the street preachers who point fingers and call people “sinners.” Do we not? Certainly, they would attract more people to Christianity if they wouldn’t do that. Right? Yet, in two of the gospels, that was Jesus’ message at the very beginning of his ministry.
Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
See also Matthew 4:17 on that. No getting around it, Jesus is drawing attention to our sin. There will be a day when we all must give account for our actions (Romans 14:12). First comes death, then judgment (Hebrews 9:27). It’s there. Still, I think we are focusing our attention on ourselves in our reaction to labels like “sinner” and therefore don’t want to use them. We simply don’t like the thought of all this. That’s understandable, I suppose. Therefore, we downplay it.
On the other hand, perhaps we should look at this whole thing differently. Instead of hiding this label, perhaps we should embrace it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking embrace as in endorsing sin. I’m talking about recognizing myself for who I really am – hopelessly mired in my sin. Yes, I was created in the image of God, but my sin has so polluted my world that I simply have no clue about how putrid my life really is, well, was. No, is. I stammer there because things have changed, and I see now what I once was although not yet seeing the true magnitude of my sin. I don’t know about you, but I disgust myself far more often that I like.
This realization is extremely disturbing. In fact, one may conclude it would be better off not knowing any of it. That’s exactly what happens. We ignore it. Even believers do. Right?
Perhaps our focus is the problem. When we look at ourselves, we can’t help but feel shame. We can’t help but want to hide from our behavior. Let’s see what happened to Isaiah.
Isaiah 6:1-5 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
That’s pretty much what happens when we come to grips with who we are – unclean lips in the midst of unclean lips. What exactly does unclean lips mean anyway? Lint on my fresh lipstick? Nope. Think lies and bragging. Think gossip and slander. Think seduction and adultery. Think deception and theft. You get the idea. But then something very strange happens to Isaiah:
v. 6-7 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.
For those of us who have been saved, this scene from Isaiah is what happened to us. Sometimes we have difficulty seeing things in the Spirit, but we have been summoned and touched by God. We recognize our condition and repent. God has forgiven our sins. Our focus, therefore, should not be on us, but rather Him.
I’m going to leave this here for today and pick up tomorrow. This is a big topic (referring to ourselves as “sinners”), and I need to process it further.
Father, thank you for musicians who share truth and are completely devoted to Jesus. They share the gospel just as much as do preachers and teachers. Lord, encourage Crowder and my church worship team that they may boldly sign your praises and inspire us all to sing to you, just as you sing to us. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers