You sinner, you!
Our text: 2 Samuel 11.
Couple my first major paper on the doctoral level with being an overachiever and you get the word angst. This was a big deal because I wanted it to be a big deal.
I did qualitative research on why those not going to church found church so unappealing. I didn’t phrase my preset questions this way, but, without specifically asking, several commonalities emerged from my diverse interviewees. The most common response may not surprise you. People who don’t come to church do so because they feel churchgoers are hypocrites.
For those reading along who do not attend church, here’s the thing: churchgoers know what screwups they really are. Honestly. I work with these people—a lot. They know they are hot messes. They are fickle, foolish, and at times so childlike it can drop your jaw. And they know they are ball droppers.
After worship, one sweet lady said, “Will, as a pastor, I do not know how you put up with us.”
She was being candid. She was being honest.
This truth actually sets us free. When you know what a goof you are sometimes, you also know you need someone to save you. Ah. Enter our Savior. Jesus is our need, not our want.
Sure, we sing, “Lord, I want to be a Christian” because it is a choice; we do want to be a Christian; but there’s a catch to this hymn. It’s hard to be a Christian sometimes because there’s this perpetual tug of war between our will and God’s will. The challenge is our willpower is curbed—or it is curbed as much as it can be. This is not an excuse for our bad behavior; it’s just the honest struggle we have between being selfish by nature or being servants by (and through) our Savior.
In scripture tomorrow (and this is real and raw text includes extramarital sex and murder), David is a royal screw up—no pun on him being a king! He really sins. A lot. Repetitively. He is one bad dude.
We who gather to read and understand one lesson each week take this text as a whole and, in so doing, see the holes in our lives. We are not only hypocrites, we are also snooty, self-righteous, and sometimes smug.
Christians say really stupid things. Christians may have said really stupid things to you. They have certainly said really stupid things to me—really stupid things, things that would hurt me profoundly if I didn’t have a forgiveness model in Jesus Christ.
To help us all in our outward and obvious sinfulness, I wish every day were Ash Wednesday. This past Ash Wednesday, I was in deep with pneumonia. I had an appointment with my pulmonologist in the hospital. I kept seeing these blackish smudge marks on peoples’ foreheads. I LOVED it. Sinner! Sinner! Sinner! Look at all of you sinners! Which is exactly what these Christians were. Which is exactly what all Christians are.
But we learn what we continually invite all to learn, which is this: even though we are like David, we do learn—eventually—that we want to get it right. We want to be right with God and with fellow humankind through our actions like grace and mercy. And one more. Love.
PRAYER: Every Christian I know has been called a hypocrite. And rightly so. God, help us all see that our flaws, like David’s, lead us to faith, not isolation. Amen.