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November 21, 2005

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Wonderful illustration of the theology of the Cross. The way down is the way up. However, at what point to we see the sin of others around us as ours? When do we own each other's sin?

This validates my pain in many ways, because I often have people telling me that I am "too hard on myself," or that I am "doing fine," or that "nobody is perfect" and so my expectations of myself are too high. It is even more frustrating for someone who is beating themselves up to be told that they are wrong to do so, because often, you couldn't stop being disappointed with yourself, even if you tried. I came to a point in my life where I said, "No! It's not OK that I am not perfect. And that's why Jesus lived and died--because God was not satisfied with our imperfection."

My question, however, would be...what do you do with the anguish that accompanies you every day when you are beating yourself up? How does someone who beats themselves up relax in dependency on the Lord? How do you convince someone that is so used to seeing themselves as not-good-enough, someone who hates themselves for failing, someone who is a perfectionist, that they are loved and accepted? Or are we not supposed to?

See 1Peter2:17-25

Jerry, thanks for the encouragement and questions. I don't know exactly what you are driving at but I would venture a guess that your question revolves around the tension between being in the world and not of the world. And for regular CG readers, my apologies for being so evangelically cliche. Anyway, I believe the answer is found by taking our cues from Jesus who so identified himself with sinners that he was lumped in with the rest of them - "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners", while at the same time was "tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." Of course, that's very easy to say and impossible to do.

Beth, it's good to hear from someone so much like me. I believe the beauty of beating myself up as opposed to blaming something or someone else is that this course of action inevitably (sometimes it takes me a while) leads to heartfelt repentance. And heartfelt repentance is marked by both a hatred of myself but also a deep and abiding need of and love for Jesus. If our repentance ends at sorrow for our sin then it's not true repentance. Sorrow for sin must give way to joy for salvation. If I beat myself up but never let Jesus pick me back up then I've missed the gospel. You are loved and accepted no matter what. What's we're supposed to do should be what we want to do but so struggle to do, which is to need Jesus more today than you did yesterday. So many Christians I talk seem to want to need Jesus less when nothing else could be better than needing him more. Here's one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner - "The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner, to use the old word, that he is evil in the imagination of his heart, that when he looks in the mirror all in a lather what he sess is at least eight parts chicken, phony, slob. That is the tragedy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding to be sure, but also bled for. That is the comedy. And yet, so what? So what if even in his sin the slob is loved and forgiven when the very mark and substance of his sin and of his slobbery is that he keeps turning down the love and forgiveness because he either doesn't believe them or doesn't want them or just doesn't give a damn? In answer, the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen to him just as in fairy tales extraordinary things happen." Believe the fairy tale Beth. And remember what Shakespaere once said, "the worst returns to laughter."

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