Corruption Points to Importance

Last weekend I attended the Valued Conference dedicated to the topic of sexual abuse and the church’s response to it in this cultural moment. There was much at the conference that was stirring and vital for leaders and the church as a whole.

They have posted video of the whole conference online and I commend it to you.

What struck me significantly during one talk leads me to reflect a bit more today. I can’t remember for certain who said it, but a speaker mentioned that the devil was at work spoiling or corrupting those areas in which there is the most revealed of the goodness of God, really things meant to glorify Jesus and his gospel.

Things so important, they are painting a picture of the glory of God, that Satan attempts to ruin them.

This was first in the context of sex. A beautiful and wonderful thing rightly expressed and experienced (from a biblical worldview in the context of a one man one woman marriage). The act of fully giving oneself over to the other. Sacrifice. Wholeness. Pleasure.

A God who gives himself fully over for us. Not seeking his own privilege but serving those he created.

Of course then Satan wants to corrupt this gift. He does it by attacking expression, direction, identity and other areas extending from it. He perverts and extorts the gift to sully it, to leave us at a loss, violated, hurt, torn covenants by the dozen. All so that we would miss the glory beyond the gift, what it is meant to point to.

But sex is not the exclusive territory under attack.

Authority, the benevolent and good-seeking kind. That serves, that wields power for those without it, that looks to help others rise. Satan taints it with domination, harshness, abuse and misuse.

The Miraculous. The spiritual work of the Holy Spirit in our world that gives a glimpse into the renewed world, restored life. But Satan inspires swindlers peddling snake oil, tempting even those that believe in the miraculous to look the other way rather than genuinely see the giver of tremendous gifts.

Even Fatherhood, meant to express God’s fatherly care for all of creation and especially humanity. That we could be loved this much. So Satan schemes to corrupt our view of fatherhood with destroyed images of harm over care, absence over involvement.

The list could go on couldn’t it? So much of life meant to point to the giver of life and it is attacked and corrupted to tarnish glory.

But God will not be robbed of glory. The gospel, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are proof of that. That every story is being redeemed, restored back eventually to what we were created for.

As I go then through life I am determining to recognize the corruption for what it is attempting to cover. The importance of God’s love for us. The beauty of his creation and the experience of his grace even in a world groaning for our true home.

Will you join me in working for redemption? Finding those areas of attempted corruption and in prayer and pursuit of justice turning them over to the Lord, for renewal, for his glory.

Let’s see the important things for what they are, glimpses of glory.

A Rock In The Sock

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This morning as I made the way down the street for my morning run I was pestered by something in my shoe. It began as a little itch, something I just ran through trying to take my mind off of it. Then it became more annoying so I adjusted my shoe a bit hoping for relief. Then it was unbearable so I put my finger in my sock to find a small rock, a pebble, working like sandpaper on my heel as I ran the race that was set before me.

Immediately the comparison to sin that lingers and stays so close became abundantly clear and painful even. I suppose I could have continued on with the rock in my sock but it would have ruined the run. It would have dominated the experience and detracted from the purpose. I may have hobbled along, but there would have been no joy, no undistracted exertion.

This friends is us when we live with the little rocks of sin. Those things that have become routine. The behaviors, the thinking, the attitudes. They usually just start as an itch but become something that tries to burrow into the skin and wreak havoc.

These are the things we are to lay aside, give up on, remove from the “socks” of our lives. So that we may run. Live the abundant life we are meant for.

But the encouragement doesn’t stop in Hebrews with just running. It is running while “looking to Jesus” we are encouraged toward. The founder and perfecter of our faith that took on a cross to clear every “rock,” remove every weight of sin that clings so closely. And because he did that, for the joy of claiming you, you are now free to remove those pesky rocks from your socks.

Christian, there is no rock of sin that can condemn you in Christ. You are covered, and made to wear his righteousness. Now in him you are also empowered to lay aside sin. Notice it, own it, repent of it, and turn away from it. Discard the rocks.

This is for me and I think the Lord gave me a pebble to illustrate with frustrating clarity the distraction of those tightly clinging sins I have been trying to run through.

May we live to surrender those lesser things to the finished work of Christ. May we run looking to him.

Whole Soul Faith

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

“Literally, “looking away.” We are to look to Jesus in a special way, a way that is different from the way we looked at the cloud of witnesses. The verb is in the present tense, so a continual acts is intended. In all that we do, in our profession and obedience, we are constantly to look to Christ… ‘Looking’ denotes an act of faith or trust, with hope and expectation. It is not just an act of understanding or considering what we are looking at; it is an act of the whole soul in faith and trust… So the Lord Jesus is not set before us here merely as an example for us but as him in whom we place our faith, trust, and confidence, with all our expectation of success in our Christian course. Without this faith and trust in him, we will derive no benefit from his example.” – John Owen

A Broken Heart

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12
We don’t always feel the weight of our sin. Sure we feel guilty that we messed up or in the least, got caught. But what of true brokenness before the Lord? Sometimes it comes when we have drifted from him. And when we are in this state, can we praise him?
“David prayed, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” In my journey back to the Lord, praise for him was non-existent. I saw afresh how my zeal in worship was mainly predicated upon my approval of myself. Oh Lord, if that’s what I really am, how can I praise you? I didn’t want to praise him. I wanted to feel sorry for myself and hide behind plausible-sounding excuses. When he came walking in the garden, i was busy fabricating my new fig-leaf outfit. I wanted to scurry past the memory of my sin and get everything tidied up so that I could approve of myself again. He taught me afresh that the covering I needed necessitated shed blood. Sweat, cries, beatings, nails, substitutionally death. Nothing to be scurried past easily on my way to self-perfection. Nothing tidy. Only this revelation would open my mouth to declare his praise.”
“…I came to understand again that what he wanted from me was not my good record. Instead, he wanted brokenness and humility that would make me love him and my neighbor.”
Brokenness that generates love and care.
Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 18.