Wednesday, January 1, 2020

From my friend, Steve West

Steve West is a United Methodist pastor who is a genuine Christ-follower. What follows is a post from his blog that I find most compelling:

Accepting our Sinfulness in a Time of Hypocrisy

By my desk I keep the devotional book "A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer," which my daughter thoughtfully gave me for Christmas in 2007. I've never been regimented about doing one devotional each day, but from time to time I plunge in for a number of weeks.

Today, I arrived at this one. It resonates with me as I think about the new year, and ponder the resolution rekindled in me to live in the "wonders of his love" as a person of great compassion for others.

It is so imperative during the massive struggles of Christ and culture in North America today that we do this. I'd like to share this quote with you as we all seek a faith that is more real, relevant, and relational in the midst of "cushy Christianity" and hypocrisy that seems so exposed right now by the winds of change.

"The Pious Community"

"Confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16). Those who remain alone with their evil are left utterly alone. It is possible that Christians may remain lonely in spite of daily worship together, prayer together, and all their community through service - that the final breakthrough to community does not occur precisely because they enjoy community with one another as pious believers, but not with one another as those lacking piety, as sinners. For the pious community permits no one to be a sinner. Hence all have to conceal their sins from themselves and from the community. We are not allowed to be sinners. Many Christians would be unimaginably horrified if a real sinner were suddenly to turn up among the pious. So we remain alone in our sin, trapped in lies and hypocrisy, for we are in fact sinners."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 108.

May you have more than a "happy" new year. May it be a time to be real with yourself, with God, and with your Christian community. With Thomas Merton, I have no idea where I'm going or how I'm going to get there, but I trust that my desire to please God does in fact please God. Yet I do know this. We are here by the grace of God, not by our own perfectionism. The only perfection I strive for is perfection in love.

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