Romans 7:17-20 (Message)
17 -20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
I’ve always loved this scripture because it makes me not feel so bad about myself. If Paul can be this candid and blunt – totally transparent about how he struggles with his sin, than I can too. It’s always been comforting knowing that this amazing saint was such a screw up . Why is it then that we pastors so often come across like we know everything, like we’ve figured out this faith, and we can ‘answer any question you’d like to ask’? Whether you know it or not the world looks at us pastors and thinks we’re fake. According to a new study on what non-Christians think about us, overwhelmingly, they think our lives and words are empty, so much so this study ended up as a new book called “UnChristian”. How did this “perfect” posture become our example to lead people in their faith journeys? If Paul could openly write this honest confession to those he was trying to mentor in church leadership, why can’t we be transparent about who we are and how we struggle? The world doesn’t have a problem with the fact that we make mistakes and are human, they have a problem with how we deal with those mistakes, how we hide from truth instead of humbly embracing it and dealing with our sin honestly. Perhaps that’s how Paul was able to attract and reach so many, because he wasn’t the haughty, perfect, pious Pharisee he used to be, but instead just a broken sinner with a loving and forgiving God.
We so often live and worship as though we’re pleading with God to come near with one hand and holding Him off with the other, what’s our problem? Why is this Christian life so hard to live? Why do we sometimes feel like Paul, going crazy in the cycle of faith and fear or living holy or heathen? Only Jesus was able to walk this line of humanity and holiness perfectly and that’s why we need Him so desperately. He gives us the grace to own our failures and the truth to help us change.
You may not see the inconsistency that we as Christians can so often portray but the world does. Let’s not try to come off as perfect or like we’ve figured out every mystery of life and the universe, but instead open our eyes and be honest about our struggles and, like Paul, talk about it, lead with humility and transparency, only then will the world see the beauty and redemption in our God.