Embracing the Awful Past
I posted a link to this video on facebook a few weeks ago. If you haven’t seen it, please take 4 minutes to watch it before reading further. I would embed it, but I can’t figure out how to do that from Vimeo to here. I feel a little hypocritical asking you to do this, as I’m usually the guy who won’t click on the link and just try to figure it out from the context. That particular movie from Sojourn Community Church has stuck with me in a powerful way over the weeks since I first saw it. And I’ve been asking myself again and again, “What’s the draw? What gives this little 4 minute video staying power that all the hundreds of other Christian videos I’ve seen do not have?”
People embracing the awful past gives it staying power. It’s one thing for individuals to talk in vague generalities about how “I was a sinner and then Christ saved me.” And I don’t want to minimize the importance of that. But it’s another thing for individuals to talk in the specifics of how they acted out and expressed the war between them and God in their lives. In a land where everybody’s a former rebel, it’s easy to talk about being a former rebel. It’s a lot harder to talk about the war crimes we committed before laying down our arms.
The only way someone can flip the pages of a notebook reading “I was close to leaving my wife for another woman” is if he is absolutely convinced that his sin no longer defines him. The only way a woman can have “anti-God bisexual adulteress” broadcast throughout the church is if she understands that who she now is in Christ crushes the reality of who she once was.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation….” Paul wrote that. He would know. Never do we see Paul do anything other than embrace his own awful past. Not only embrace, but publish. Paul is the biggest proclaimer of who he was before Christ in the Scriptures. The past was not a threat to him; it was proof of the redefining power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.