on God’s un-arrogant love


This week at the youth program my rockstar sister directs, she paused Bible story time to ask the kids about a time they’d done something wrong. If anyone doubted that children are born into a broken nature, doubt no longer. Not only were some of these kids very willing to share their stories—people, they were triumphant.

“Yeah, like when I do something bad, I blame my BROTHER!” one seven-year-old declared, to a cascade of laughter.

So maybe the kids didn’t quite get the point, and maybe their understanding leaves something to be desired, but maybe also I have something to learn from them.

Friends, I hate my sin. I wish it wasn’t there, and I would certainly never be willing to declare it in a loud voice to a room full of people. One day last week, I looked back at journals I filled several years ago, and the badness reflected there makes my soul retch and want to vomit itself out, run far away, and forget that those things in my head and in my heart ever happened.

My current sin does the very same thing. Because some of the things in former-Krystiana’s journals are pleas for God to take away sin that I know for a fact is still around today. In fact, those pleas form a considerable amount of the prayers I’ve ever prayed. They involve a lot of frustration, and a lot of me challenging God to show me why, if I’m supposedly being sanctified, is this sin still around. Why does there seem so little growth? Am I doing something wrong? And (scariest of all), does the persistence of this sin and the slowness of sanctification mean maybe I’m not a real Christian?

That is terrifying. It makes me feel little and dirty and scared. But, eventually, it also makes me realize something about the love of God: its humility. I’m not sure about you, but when I think of the humility of God’s love, I think of Christ as portrayed in Philippians 2. Obedient to the point of death, and so on. Those ideas are beautiful and true, but that un-arrogant, un-self-interested, un-elitist love didn’t stop at the cross. It’s the same love with which God loves me today. And one way it shows up is in God’s refusal to take away the sin I hate.

As much as I hate my sin, some of those sins are pretty reliable to send me to the feet of my Father. I can point to things I struggle with and know that I pray more in those times and about those things than in all the in-betweens. That doesn’t say a whole lot for the quality of my habitual prayer life, but it does say something about that un-arrogant love of God.

You see, if I were God, I might get tired of my pathetic prayers. I might wish for people who knew how to pray with a little more class. But he isn’t that picky. He wants us to glorify him, but we can’t do that until we realize our need for him and pursue that relationship in whatever form it takes. And right now, it’s just possible that until I learn to pray with more constancy throughout every day, God won’t take away this sure-fire garbage in my heart that draws me to Him. Because maybe he wants my self in relationship with him more than he wants me to feel sanctified. And because maybe I am in-real-life sanctified not by agonizing over my sin, but by bowing before the one who has already forgiven it and remembers it no more.

That is un-arrogant love.

So while the second-graders confidently showing off their wickedness reveals a great need for grace, it also has got something on my fearful and unspoken distress. Because when Paul said that “Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief” that “am” is present tense. He didn’t say “sure, I was a sinner, but now as you can see I’m sanctified,” and then go hide in his head full of sin-angst where no one could see. He confidently pointed out his present-tense sin in order to remind his audience (and perhaps himself?) that this is why Christ came.

That’s what I want to do. I want to live every day without either hiding from my sin or hiding it from the world. I want to remember that Christ’s love on the cross that was so dazzlingly un-arrogant is the same today. And I want to remember that without sin in the history of the world, he would not have had to come for me, and without sin in my today and everyday, I would not have to come to him.

So today, I’m not praying for God to take away my badness. Today, I’m praying for God to keep me coming back to him every single hour until the one when I stand before him and hear him say that he forgot my sin the minute Christ died.

Only then will I possibly be able to fathom the depth of his love. But until that day, I’m clinging to what I know.

*  *  *

Also, I’m thankful for the friends and conversations that encourage this kind of authenticity. Shouting my sin to a room full of people may never be necessary, but giving it naked words to one person sitting across the table is a challenging and wholesome start. Thanks for being.

2 thoughts on “on God’s un-arrogant love

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