A Clergy Confesses

September 7, 1997

Romans 8:1-2 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

God, I can't be perfect. I can't even be as good as Jim (my brother), or Jeanne (my wife), let alone Jesus. I can't – I can't lead a life that is without fault, I can't stop sinning, despite my best intentions.

Deep down I know that,

    for the evil I have done,
    and the good I have failed to do,
    I deserve to be fired
      from the ministry,
      from membership in the church,
      and, on my really bad days,
      from the human race itself.

There is a "but" here, thank God, though this "but" seems a long time in coming and I have to look at a lot of scriptures before the "but" is clear. Here it is. But because God's son came to fulfill the law on my behalf, on your behalf, God offers as a gift the righteousness Jesus described. We are not brought into God's company of saints through our goodness or purity or piousness, or our righteousness. We don't even have to measure up to the others that people like to compare us with day in and day out. The old hymn merely said:

    Nothing in my hand I bring.
    Simply to Thy Cross I cling.
We are made like Christ through water and word and spirit and grace. Paul teaches that no-one can claim righteousness by the things they say or do or observe. Every one of us is in the same boat – we have all fallen short of the glory of God. The law tells us that we have all messed up, all failed to meet the mark, all good for nothing. Under the law that regulates righteousness, we can do no better than to say: "I am a worm and not human." We should be treated like the salt that has lost its saltiness which is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. We live in an age that actually thinks like this, among people who have little or no self-esteem, who know how to put themselves down or are willing to listen to the voice of others who are eager to put them down. So we are quick to believe in our own worthlessness.

But God did not throw us out. On the contrary, God came to us because we were not strong enough to come to God on our own. And it is now, in admitting our own weakness, our own failures and faults, our own unrighteousness, that we can be honest to God and be made free from the laws and rules and regulations and false righteousness that weighed down the scribes and Pharisees and inhibited them from actually accomplishing the will of God. In admitting our own weakness, we are free to ask for help from another, from brothers and sisters and from the Lord.

Prayer: Into your hands I commit my spirits believing that I am safe and secure in my Saviour's love. Thanks be to you, Lord God. Amen.

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About the author:

Kenn Stright <kennethstright@yahoo.ca>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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