Sunday, August 30, 2020


Once again from one of my favorite books, Waiting, Ben Patterson in the chapter on Abram:
In his autobiography, Brother to a Dragonfly, Will Campbell recalls his friendship with a profane and brilliant skeptic named P.D. East. He and East had often argued to a standstill about the truth of Christianity. One day, as they rode together in a car, East came at him from a surprising angle.
Just tell me what this Jesus cat is all about. I'm not too bright but maybe I can get the hang of it.... If you could tell me what the hell the Christian faith is about maybe I wouldn't make an ass out of myself when I'm talking about it. Keep it simple. In ten words or less, what's the Christian message? ...Let me have it. Ten words.
Campbell thought hard for several minutes. What would be your answer, in ten words or less? Campbell's was this: "We're all bastards but God loves us anyway."

East swung his car over onto the shoulder of the road and stopped. He asked Campbell to repeat his definition. He obliged. East counted the number of words on his fingers. "I gave you a ten word limit. If you want to try again you have two words left."

The language in that definition is raw, but is it really any different from the words of the Bible which say, "Christ died for our sins"? We have anesthetized ourselves to the word sin. It no longer stabs us with grief and the fear of a holy God. To say that we are sinners is to say that we are all the misbegotten enemies of God, bastards every one, deserving judgment and death.

It is only as we see the enormity of our sin that we can appreciate the magnitude of God's mercy to us. If Christ would die for sinners, if he would love us misbegotten ones enough to do that before we even cared for him (and whether or not we ever did), then how much more, now that we have believed in him, will he preserve us by that same love? If we can believe the first word of the gospel, that Christ died for us, it should be no problem whatsoever to believe the next word of the gospel, that he will preserve us after we believe even when we fail. We are saved by God's mercy and we wait by God's mercy. Faith is not our ability to hold on to God, but simply trusting in his ability to hold on to us.

(Ben Patterson, Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent, IVP, 1989)

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