Right Now

“It’s better to admit you are a mutt than pretend you are a poodle.”
–Curt Cloninger

Why do we do it?
We wear masks.
We put on airs.
We pretend.
We deny.
We cover-up.
We play act.
We claim to be something we are not.
We profess to be someone we are not.

Again, why do we do it?
And what does it say about us? 
Often the only one you are fooling is yourself. 
The only one I am fooling is me.
What benefit is there to this self-deception?

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). 

What does our denial say about our understanding of God?
Doesn’t our refusal to confess reveal a lack of confidence in God’s forgiveness?
Doesn’t our reluctance to stop pretending betray a distrust of God?

“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10 NLT).

So why don’t we just confess?
Rather than deceiving ourselves…
And calling God a liar.
God is faithful.
God sees our sin, even our secrets.
God is full of mercy.
God is quick to forgive.

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:10).

So what are we hiding?
What secrets am I keeping?
What sins are you concealing?
Will we confess?
Right now?
Owning our sins and opening our hearts to God?
Right now?

Remember, when we confess our sin, we are affirming our trust in God.
Trust in God’s love.
Trust in God’s mercy.
Trust in God’s grace.
Trust in God’s forgiveness.
Trust in God’s word.

Come clean.
Get real.
Trust God.
Right now.

The Anchor of Christology

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:1-4).

The September 8, 2006 edition of The Washington Times carried an article by David R. Sands entitled “Episcopal bishops hit ‘inappropriate’ speech.” Sands reports the opposition of some bishops to the decision to invite former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to speak at the Washington National Cathedral which is “the seat of the presiding bishop of the church’s American branch.” What caused the opposition? Was it the former president’s lack of belief in Jesus as the Son of God? No. The critics called the invitation “ill-conceived and inappropriate” because of “the Iranian regime’s stance on women’s rights, homosexuality and Israel.”

In his volume on the letters of John in The NIV Life Application Commentary, Gary Burge tells the story of his friend who was a student at the Harvard Divinity School. Upon finding out that one of the professors was agnostic; his friend began inquiring about the diversity of beliefs among the faculty. “Anything goes” was the response. When his friend pressed, asking “You mean no belief or absence of belief would keep one from being hired to teach theology?” The response was clarified: “Only one, the refusal to endorse women’s ordination.” Burge concludes: “Regardless of how one feels on this subject, John would anchor the starting point (or litmus test) of Christian theology elsewhere. The absence of a sound Christology is John’s test” (p. 60).

These stories have provoked me to do some thinking, even soul-searching, about the place of sound Christology in my life and to our church family at Skyline.

  • How important is Christology in the letters of John? How important is it elsewhere in the New Testament?
  • Is Christology the only test of fellowship in John’s letters? If so, is that solely due to the occasional nature of the letter? If not, what are the other tests?
  • What role does Christology play in our belief system at Skyline? Does it provide an anchor for our identity as a faith community? If not, what does? If so, do we need to give more attention to Christology?
  • Is it biblical for other issues to trump Christology in matters of fellowship? If not, how developed does our Christology need to be? If so, where are the passages where Christology is trumped by other issues?
  • Do we have some “blind spot” that is just as obvious to everyone else as those of the Harvard Divinity School and the Washington National Cathedral are to us?There are many other questions for meditation raised by a reading of the letters of John. For example, in the prologue to his first letter, John writes about the inter-relatedness of proclamation, fellowship, and joy. Most of the questions we raise when working with the text involve the proclamation and the fellowship. Seldom do we even pause to reflect on the important place of joy in the community of faith, and yet joy is identified by John as the very reason for his writing.

    Are you hungry for God? The more time we spend wrestling in prayer over these letters, the more we come to know Him. May God help us as we seek Him with all our heart, mind, and strength. May God Himself – Father, Son, and Spirit – be the anchor we so desperately need in our lives.

The Cover-up

“If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins. He takes away not only our sins but the sins of all the world” (1 John 1:8-2:2 NLT).

To say newspaper sales in Chowchilla, CA were brisk on February 23 of this year would be an understatement. According to a news report, a man named Jack William Pacheco went around town buying up every copy he could find of The Chowchilla News. Mr. Pacheco was not looking for coupons to clip. He was not buying them in hopes of them one day being collectors-items worth a fortune.

Jack Pacheco was emptying the newspaper racks in an effort to conceal his arrest on drug charges, which was recorded on the front page headlines, complete with his photograph in living color. He filled his garage with the 500-600 copies he bought around town at $.50 per copy, thinking he could keep it all quiet, only to find out that the newspaper publishers printed 500 extra copies since sales were so good.

Go ahead and laugh. Who would possibly go to such lengths to cover their mistakes and save face? But as we laugh, let’s be honest about the times we have tried to cover our sins, hoping no one will find out what we have been up to. As with political scandals, where the cover-up is often worse than the original crime, so it is with our spiritual maneuvering designed to obscure our missteps. When we try to act innocent by covering our sin, we are in effect, calling God a liar.

Thank God for Jesus, who takes away our sins.