The thing is…
If we’re going to be like Jesus and follow him, we shouldn’t be weenies about it. If we’re angry, we should burn with it. If we’re going to show compassion, we should have a broken heart. If we’re going to cry, we should sob. If we’re going to laugh, it shouldn’t be a little girl’s giggle, but a big belly laugh. And if we’re going to sin, we ought to, as Luther put it, “sin boldly.”
I suppose all this uptightness comes from our desire to please God, to have a clear witness and to be holy. And let’s get something straight upfront: I’m big on pleasing God, having a clear witness and being holy. Being against those is like being against motherhood, the flag and apple pie.
You believe in pleasing God, don’t you?
No, definitely not. I like to tick him off…especially in thunderstorms. Are you crazy? Of course I believe in pleasing God.
You surely think you ought to have a clear witness?
No, I’m into running away as many pagans as possible. There are already too many Christians around and I don’t want to be responsible for any more. Of course I’m for a clear witness. Don’t be silly.
Don’t you think holiness is a good thing?
No, definitely not. God was wrong on that one. Of course I believe that we ought to be holy.
Quit asking me silly questions.
But I do think that we sometimes misunderstand God’s pleasure, what a clear witness is and the nature of holiness. So listen up. After all these years of confusion from the great thinkers of the church, I’m going to straighten it out. In doing so, I will be producing one of the paradigm moments of Christendom and so don’t stop reading. You don’t want to miss it.
Well…uh…maybe not, but I do believe that our uptightness, while perhaps from honest and sincere hearts, is based on three fatal flaws: a misunderstanding of God’s pleasure, a mistake about our witness and a confusion about true holiness.
Here is the truth as succinctly as possible:
- God is already pleased (Romans 4:22-25).
- You are already a witness (2 Corinthians 3:6-7).
- You are already holy (1 Corinthians 3:17).
The point is this. We’re working so hard to accomplish something that has already been accomplished that our efforts make us seem very uptight, quite angry and incredibly anxious. Not only that, the world isn’t buying it. And if they do, we’re just creating more people who fake it, trying to please God, trying to have a pure witness and trying to be holy.
It’s killing us.
Did you hear about the two little boys who came home from a Cub Scout outing crying? Their mother asked why and they told her that Jimmy had fallen into the lake.
“Oh,” she said, “that is horrible.”
“It’s worse than that,” one of the boys said. “We tried to give Jimmy artificial respiration and he kept walking away.”
You wonder why they keep walking away when we’re only trying to help?
They honestly believe that our cure will make them sicker than they already are.
When Martin Luther said, “If you sin, sin boldly,” he was saying something important—“Stop being a weenie.” Actually, he wouldn’t have said it that way. But if I quoted his earthy words on this matter, you would probably be offended. (One time a critic of President Truman approached his wife, Bess Truman, to ask if she could influence the president to stop using the words, “horse manure.” “You have no idea,” she replied, “how many years it took for me to get him to say that.”)
Insipid people rarely create questions.
So don’t giggle…laugh with the freedom of the redeemed. Do something inappropriate. Offend someone. Bless someone. Go to Jesus and let his broken heart for the poor and the lost break your heart. Quit trying to be so good. If you were that good, he wouldn’t have sent his Son, he would have sent a book instead. God is quite fond of you. He is creating in you the image of his Son. You are holy because he made you holy by setting you apart for himself. Shout. Dance. Cuss and spit, if you must…okay, I got a little carried away there. But don’t just stand there looking afraid, guilty, proper and bland.
Create some questions in the minds of pagans. The questions will come because, if you stay close to him, he will make you different and alive, free and faithful, and joyous and improper. And God himself will be the answer to their questions.
Time to Draw Away
Read Romans 8:1-2, 14-17, 31-39
Are you an uptight Christian? What if you were to just let go, trusting that God already has it all covered? He does, you know. You are loved. You are secure. God is already pleased. So live in that freedom and grace…and dance! And when you do, others will dance with you.