Father, Mother God–
Let me feel your loving gaze and presence. Let me dare to believe that you adore and delight in me. I feel my shortcomings so viscerally and deeply. Give me the gift of relief from their weight.
In my sin, I have no ability to stop, moderate, or pull myself out once I fall in. Only you can do this in me. I am committed to walking this path with you and seeing your light and freedom in me and the world.
Protect and guide me.
I give these defects, shortcomings, and sources of shame to you. Remove, heal, and transform them. Be gentle, but real–substantive. I love you. Let me believe and see your love for me.
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
~ Revelation 18. 1-3
O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honor those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.
~ Psalm 15
On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Idol.” For I will remove the names of the idols from your mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.
~ Hosea 2.16-20
I passed by you again and looked on you; you were at the age for love. I spread the edge of my cloak over you, and covered your nakedness: I pledged myself to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I bound you in fine linen and covered you with rich fabric. I adorned you with ornaments: I put a beautiful crown upon your head. You were adorned with gold and silver. You grew exceedingly beautiful, fit to be a queen. Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendor that I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God.
~ Ezekiel 16.8-14
The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
~ James 5.15-16
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5.19-21)
As I recently finished a Church Bible Study on the book of Galatians, those verses inevitably caused some discussion.
I mean, we’ve all to some degree engaged in most–if not all–of the items on that list at some point in our lives, right? Even if you’re a Christian.
So what does it mean to say “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”?
As we discussed it, we arrived at the answer many of us come to if you grew up in the Church: these scary statements only apply to those individuals who have these “works of the flesh” as a pattern of their life to such a degree one might be able to say that the sins have “dominion” over them. That answers it, right?
Not really. Because there are Christians who find themselves in seasons–days, weeks, months, decades, even–where these sins are their practice over time, seasons where these sins have a very real sense of dominion over them and their lives.
And, this isn’t theoretical or theological for me. To be honest, I myself am coming out just such a time.
. . . . .
I wrote the above words a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I’ve only sunk deeper into the bewilderment of this season I’m coming out of. How does a Christian understand a period of time in which they’re given over so deeply into self-absorption, sin, and hurting of others? I’ve sat on this question, mulling it over, letting it ruminate within me to see what fruit it bore. I’ve wanted to figure out a nice, tidy answer to this post–for the sake of both others and myself.
And alas, I have been found wanting.