Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A new prescription

“We live in a fallen world and we’re all sinners; we just need to keep remembering that,” said the host of the morning Christian radio broadcast I recently heard. While the belief is that the world is fallen and we are all born into sin, the tone and manner with which we approach and discuss this topic is what is concerning to me. The tone that was in this broadcaster’s voice was a tone of defeat. And quite frankly brothers and sisters – I don’t want to subscribe to it any longer.

John Wesley spoke of Christian Perfection. In his book A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, right from the beginning he says:

“Let us strongly and explicitly exhort all believers to go on to perfection. That we may all speak the same thing, we ask once for all, shall we defend this perfection, or give it up? We all agree to defend it, meaning thereby (as we did from the beginning) salvation from all sin, properly so called, by the love of God and man filling our heart."

Think about it like this: You are sick and coughing everywhere. Eventually you go to the doctor – seeking a cure. The doctor performs a culture on your throat and later tells you that you have a condition known as Streptococcus – commonly referred to as Strep Throat. The doctor then prescribes you some medicine and tells you to go home and stay away from people for twenty-four hours.

What a doctor would not say is this: “Well, fortunately, all you have is a condition known simply as Strep Throat. Unfortunately, a lot of people have it and they just have to learn to live with it. If you begin to struggle with it I can refer you to some support groups in town where other people who battle it on a daily basis get together and lean on each other for support. Sorry, but it’s just a part of life.”

Men and women battle sin on a daily basis. But it doesn’t mean we should just roll over and accept it as part of our daily routine – should we? I hear too often from radio personalities, Sunday school teachers, singers, even preachers and evangelists, that “we are born into sin and we are all sinners.” It’s not that I dispute that; to do so would be going out on very thin, unstable, and lonely theological limb. But what I reject is the belief that I should prescribe to myself that I am a sinner and I have to get used to it! What I reject is the tone in which people speak this. It is a tone of defeat – as if the world has gotten them down and sin has planted its flag on their hearts.

Brothers and sisters, hear me. Wesley talks of holiness through the sanctifying grace of Jesus Christ; a perfection that allows each of us to be, “freed from evil desires and evil tempers.” He speaks of this as an attainable state that we can all reach, not just those selected by God to live and be as such, as opposed to those who are not. We are all made in His likeness; in His image. Wesley echoes that all of us – in this life – can reach that perfection; that we all in this world are as our Master and Creator.

I will subscribe no longer to the prescription that sin has dominion over me and I must get used to it. I will prescribe no more to my fellow brothers and sisters, in Christ, such a belief or share such a theme. The world is full of sin, and I am of this world and as such, too, full of sin. But the Holy Spirit dwells in me. And where there is Light, darkness will flee. Where there is Light, Christ, who defeated death, will too raise me up.

Thanks be to God; my Rock and my Redeemer.

In Christ -- Holy Hoosier

Wesley, John. (1844). A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. NY, NY: G. Lane/P. Sandford Publishing.

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