I recently finished reading the book of Acts. While praying about what to read next, Romans came to mind. I felt led by God to start reading Romans. Acts was so uplifting I couldn’t wait to start. Turns out, it wasn’t God’s way of orchestrating a flowery, lovey-dovey exercise in biblical exhortation. God’s word for me for the moment? Rebuke!
I’ve secretly been a bit of a pompous jerk. Maybe I was the only one who thought it was a secret. Why? Well, I can talk to anyone in my life about Jesus Christ, but when it comes to conveying my Christianity to my family, I clam up. I often view my family through “pain tinted” glasses. I’m not sure whether it’s their influence or my baggage that stifles me. I often respond to them like a timid, little boy. After all, the application or omission of all the “lessons” they taught me, have been lived out in a different “part of the world”. That “growth space” was necessary so I could attempt, fail, try again, fail again, try again and eventually succeed; then repeat.
No matter my age, my dad is always quick to correct, like when I was young. (Before I get a thousand rebukes from parents everywhere, I know that is something you will always do. It’s inevitable. Kinda like that bloaty gas you get after shot gunning four cans of free, tomato juice on a transatlantic flight. Still doesn’t mean I have to like it.) These days when my dad corrects, I often react defensively. Frustration wells up within me, like I haven’t felt since I was that powerless, voiceless, little boy. We all long to hear parents say: “Well done!” “Good Job!” or “I’m proud of you!”. They don’t correct because we’re colossal failures. They know what has worked for them. They want to help, be useful or they simply don’t want us to get hurt.
We still hate it but we accept correction from God a whole lot easier than we do from “fellow travelers”. That’s called Pride. As humble as I say I am or act, my pride is like Government Conspiracies; alive and well and great effort is made to conceal and sustain it. Pride keeps me from reaching for the lifeline when I’m sinking.
One of my greatest struggles IS a 35 year pornography addiction of mythological proportion. I fight the monster for a season. Log some victories. It reappears, stronger than before, having learned my habits and weaknesses. The pride of past victories renders me weak and trusting in my own strength. I retreat back into my “cave of suffering”, where I wallow around in self-pity and self-punishment. I want to pursue Jesus with a love and dedication that rivals my allegiance, love and dedication to pornography. I want to love Him enough to risk sharing a real, personal, ongoing battle with all of you. I want to risk having you say I am an honest jerk, rather than leading you to believe I’m awesome. To be real, confess my faults and to take my place alongside Paul as a big sinner, desperate for the Christ and wholly in need of grace. When it comes to Pornography and masturbation I won’t pretend to have it all together. I stand before God honest and shamed. I am not the man I was 14 years ago as I took those first bumbling steps out of a life of homosexuality. I have not arrived at the pearly gates either. I would rather risk losing face and take a hit to my pride, than to secretly die inside every time I slip off to my place of secret sin.
I believe we all can answer the same call as Paul in Romans 1:1. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…” . The call of God in Romans 2, however, is one of repentance. I sensed that he was pointing his Holy, righteous, loving finger of conviction at Matthew Aaron Walker. A little disobedience is still disobedience. Obedience is the key.
Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
“Do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” That statement echoed inside my head like tormented screams in a canyon. Truth: God has plans for me. Reality: I can derail those plans. My goal for a wholesome, spirit led 2013 is honesty, humility, vigilance and being known. God says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” God says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Feel free to wail against me, denounce me or take any manner of action you feel necessary. After the smoke clears and my wounds heal, let’s be prepared to walk the path of honesty and purity together as we traverse the next leg of the journey. I can’t promise I won’t fail again. I can promise honesty when I do. My greatest weaknesses will no longer determine my legacy. Jesus Christ will.
My prayer as we embark on our next adventure together comes from Psalms 31:4,7,10,14,17 & 23
Dear Jesus, Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave. The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Help me be a friend of God and an enemy of my pride. Amen!