In a rather interesting exercise, I went back and read a few posts from an older website that I maintained some ten years ago the other day. As I read those posts over, it became very clear to me why that website failed to gain any readers despite the fact that I paid for advertising. I did not call the website “The Bitter Christian” for nothing and the posts have a decidedly angry and negative tone to them which I believe to be absent (thankfully) from my more recent writings.
Despite the flaws in these old writings, I have decided to re-post some of them. In comparison with my more recent writings, these older posts illustrate the vital truth that the Christian life is a journey where Christians gradually become more mature over time.
A Peek Behind the Curtain – May 18, 2004
This is dedicated to Steve and Eileen.
The green SUV switched from the slow moving lane to the fast moving lane with little in the way of warning. With a squeal of brakes, the car in which I was traveling slowed dramatically in order to avoid a collision. “Can you believe that guy?” the driver of our vehicle said angrily to the person in the passenger’s seat as he switched over another lane and pulled along side the offending vehicle. “Hey you *** *** *** ***! Are you blind? What kind of a *** *** are you anyway?” The other driver responded with an angry finger gesture and this did nothing to calm the driver in our car. “You *** *** *** ***! Let’s get out of these cars and settle this right now!” Other angry words were exchanged and a couple more finger gestures before the green SUV sped off. I sat in the back seat in amazement at what I had just seen. How incredibly beautiful! How awesome and astonishing and uplifting! I could hardly contain the joy that I had for the rest of the drive.
In order to understand my reaction, you had to have been with me months before. I had just read about another research paper that was extremely perplexing to my Christian faith. You know the kind, “Researchers announced today the results of a study on the effects of homosexuality and drugs. They concluded that the children of gay parents who use drugs score only .5% less on standardized test scores and have a 2% higher incidence of suicide than children of other parents.” These studies always used to challenge my faith. “How can that be? How come people who flagrantly disobey God’s Word seem not to pay any statistically measurable consequences? Shouldn’t their kids be basket cases as a consequence of sin?”
The only answer to the dilemma were the words of Paul in Romans:
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (Romans 5:20)
Evidently, God is not prepared to allow innocent children to pay the full consequences of their parents disobedience merely to shore up my faith. Because He loves human beings, He cleans up after human sin by pouring out His grace. He even causes His grace to “much more abound” then disobedience. That is a beautiful thought, but the skeptical part of me said, “That’s convenient. God says that obeying His law is important and yet we cannot measure how important it is because He cleans up the mess that is caused by our disobedience. How can we ever know that obedience is important and necessary?”
As I thought about it, it occurred to me that it might be possible to see the evidence of God’s grace in sins that were so instantaneous and so minor that there was no time for God to pour out His grace. Such sins would work as a “Grace Detector” by demonstrating what we are really like through how we respond to minor irritations. But where would we ever find sins that meet this description? How are we ever going to find sins so instantaneous and minor, yet where human beings show a deplorable lack of character? I was completely stumped.
As the green SUV sped down the highway, I gasped at the awe-inspiring power of God’s grace. Is that what we are? Does “road rage” really demonstrate the character of man that is always and everywhere being restrained by God’s love and kindness, His grace and mercy? If so, then God is understating the case when He says, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”. If human beings react that way to being cut off on the highway, how do they react to much more serious sins?