Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities (Ps 130).
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:14-19).
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45).
Violence accompanied me throughout my childhood and teenage years. I was always so angry. I wanted to lash out, to hurt people.
And I did. Never publicly, but I treated people badly. I hated my brothers. We fought constantly. I am good at remodeling today in part because I had to keep fixing drywall and doors and cabinets when I and my brothers broke them.
God has taken away a lot of the pain that I felt, and the anger with it. And I was diagnosed with chronic depression—something which commonly manifests as anger, particularly in men—and continue to receive treatment for that. Things are a lot better.
But there is still a part of me that wants to hurt people. That wants to feel powerful—I’ve felt powerless most of my life, particularly as the youngest and smallest of three boys—by hurting someone else. To break free of the restraints of polite society and just cause damage.
Last week I talked about how you are not defined by the things that happened to you. This week I’m going to talk about how the things you do don’t define you, either. And as you can probably tell, this is something near and dear to my heart.
We are all born twisted. Human nature is fallen: it is corrupted, twisted, skewed. We are all born broken, dreaming of the perfect life we know we should have but can never reach. Each of us manifest this brokenness in our own way.
Some people are greedy. They must always acquire new things. They want what they want, and nothing else will do. Nor will it satisfy them for long. Some are power-hungry, not happy until they are the ones in control. They need to dominate. Some are sensual, always needing to experience a new sensation, to satisfy their every appetite. The finest clothes, the best food, the most amazing sex—whatever it is that feels good, they have to have it.
The list goes on, but you get the point.
For some people, this sin—because sin is not just an act, but a state of being—is manageable. It may be something they put most of their energy to, but they function fine in society. Since this group makes up most everyone you know, you generally call these “normal people.”
For others, it’s something that casts them out of society, or is so severe they can no longer function. These you often label as “mentally ill.” Or “that weird guy.” Or “perverts,” if the thing that is twisted in them is sexual in nature.
Both are simply following after the twist in their nature. Neither one is more righteous before God. Some just have social acceptance and the others don’t.
This isn’t to say that you can do whatever you want because God still loves you anyway. Rather, because God loves you and you love God, you strive to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. The appropriate response to God’s love isn’t, as Paul notes, sinning more so that grace can abound, but to surrender your life to God so you can live a life pleasing to Him.
Both in the “normal” people and the weirdos belong in the Church.
The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Whatever the twist in your nature is, whatever the sins are that you are most easily tempted by, they do not define who you are. God does.
This was something I came face-to-face with last year when a friend of mine went to prison. He is a child of God. And he downloaded child pornography. He broke the law and now he is paying his debt to society. He sinned grievously. But he is still a child of God.
There is nothing you can do to make God not love you anymore. There is no temptation that can be thrown against you that will make God say, “You’re not worth it.”
You are worth it. You are the child of the Most High God.
Always remember that.
And whatever sin you face, get help! Don’t try to face it alone. Don’t keep it secret. No matter how dark and dirty it may be. Take the risk and get help.
I still feel guilty that my friend did not feel that I was safe enough to confide his struggle in. Not that I could have personally done much to help him—such a thing is far out of my abilities—but I could have helped him find the help he needed. I could have helped him find a counselor who specialized in sexual disorders. I could have done something. And maybe now he wouldn’t be in prison.
If you don’t know where to get help, find someone who can help you find help for what you need.
And if someone confides something in you that is above your pay grade, so to speak, help them find someone who can help them! Don’t rebuke them for confiding in you—you’re supposed to encourage them in righteousness, and they are treating you like a brother. And don’t try to help them yourself, because you can’t.
And above all, remember: you are a child of God. He loves you. He’s making you new each day. So you can draw closer to Him.