Sitting through his sermon I heard something that made me just cringe (Let’s be real…this happens all the time). On this day, though, he was talking about sin and repentance, grace and discipline, (Actually he said, “God punishes,” but I’m offering him grace and allowing for him to really have meant discipline); themes that at once seem altogether too prevalent in our ‘Christianese’ language and yet of which are not spoken enough to our hearts.
Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure of his intent. I still struggle with words and phrases that trigger a response in my mind. A response that causes all other surroundings to move to the blurry outer reaches of my awareness. It is a lasting symptom of being human. #Context
Anyway, the piece that I got caught up in is this whole idea around God [punishes] until repentance happens.
Let me just tell you. I have truly repented of one sin in particular. I mean, on my knees, tears to exhaustion, pleaded and begged, laid bare before my Creator, R-E-P-E-N-T-E-D. And guess what?! I still struggle with the same sin. I have not been released of its grasp.
I am repentant and the battle for my heart remains in a full deathmatch. Wait…what?
Yep. Both. That day God whispered a truth to my heart that undoes my shame: it is possible that I may truly repent and yet still struggle with temptation. There it is. Temptation does not equate to sin, and there is serious warfare for my heart. It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. I have responsibility, for sure, as to my action and response to that temptation; and there are critical days that I fail. Days that I turn toward temptation because my brain likes that rush of dopamine that spreads with a heart sin that has been well cultivated. Days when I lose sight of the campaign that threatens my soul, and I believe the lies that say my deepest desires are not that harmful.
There is this space that remains between temptation and repentance, though…it is where grace resides. It bridges the gap. In life, what exactly does that look like? I’m certain it is different for each of us. For me, though, it means that I don’t have to feel that my character is ugly, or that I am among the ‘lower-ranking’ Christians. It means that I am not dirty and lost because I have a heart sin that just won’t leave me alone.
It looks like I am loved, that despair doesn’t need to hold my mind ransom, that I am good (Gasp! Oh yes she did!). It means that I don’t have to succumb to a deterministic view of my life. I can be truly repentant and still grapple with the same sin I repented of, because repentance doesn’t make me godly, sinless, or self-righteous. It simply, reverently, says that I acknowledge my offense and want desperately to turn away from its deceit; that my heart’s truest desire is to live facing full the Jesus of my redemption. Metanoia.
Grace also doesn’t mean that I’m free from discipline, though. So let’s just talk about that bombshell: does God discipline? I think so and here’s why…