Every one of us is a combination of qualities with which we are pleased, and others that 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 in our lives that will help us accomplish that goal is to simply keep going.
All of the great personalities in Scripture, with the exception of Christ himself, had portions of their lives that were dark: Noah in his tent drunk and naked after saving the world, Abraham, justified by faith, with his lies and multiple wives, David, the man after God’s own heart, the adulterer and murderer who used his position as king to cover his crimes, Peter denying Christ after walking with him and seeing his divinity first hand, Paul, after his Damascus Road encounter with Christ himself, with so many issues that he identifies himself as the chief of sinners, least of the apostles, and the one with a messenger of Satan within sent to humble him. The list could go on and on. With each of these 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, but in despair 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 alone decide our present and our futures. Let’s keep going.
That’s 21st Century Evangelicalism