Every one of us is made up of a combination of characteristics. Some are pleasing; others are shameful and embarrassing. Of course, we who are Christians want the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit, Word, and the body of Christ to work in us so the negative characteristics of our lives diminish, and our positive characteristics develop. As Martin Luther so famously reminded us, we are all simultaneously saints and sinners. Our goal, of course, is to have the saintly portion of our lives far outweigh the sinner in us that raises its ugly head from time to time. I believe one of the necessary decisions we can make in order to accomplish that goal is to simply keep going.
All of the Bible greats, with the exception of Christ, experienced portions of their lives that were dark: Noah was found drunk and naked in his tent after saving the world; Abraham, whom the Bible describes as justified by his faith, lied multiple times to save his own neck; David, the man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and murderer who used his position as king to try to cover his crimes; Peter denied Christ after he walked closely with him and witnessed his divinity first hand; Paul, after his Damascus Road encounter with Christ, described himself as the chiefest of sinners, least of the apostles, and possessing a messenger of Satan within sent to humble him . The list goes on and on. With each of these Bible greats, we see victory as they move forward. Judas is a notable exception. Great remorse gripped him. He repented, declared Jesus’ innocence, and gave back the money–yet in his despair Judas killed himself, which, of course, ended his story. As a result, his betrayal defines his life and always will. But for those who kept going, their failure is only a portion of their story.
In our modern context, when we think of Bill Clinton, Michael Vick, David Letterman, and Martha Stewart, we see them as victors who didn’t submit their entire life story to their own failures, but instead chose to let resurrection define their lives. In stark contrast is Richard Nixon who, after Watergate, resigned, retired, and died. By not continuing in the narrative of his life, he inadvertently built a monument to his failure and will always be defined by Watergate. But Clinton won’t be defined by the scandal that precipitated his disbarment and impeachment. His scandal will always be part of his story, but as he keeps going, his scandal consumes less and less space in the narrative of his life.
We are all resurrection people. We have the ability to make decisions about our present and our futures. Let’s keep going.
This is an authentic New Testament solution.