Saturday, June 4, 2011

Missing the Obvious?

Why is it that when I 'get' the need for grace, I struggle to grasp conversion? Paul never says, "Sorry, churches, I goofed." His conversion, like Augustine's, seems complete and total. To be sure, Paul insists that our whole life is to be lived through God's grace, not our own effort, but he assumes radical transformation. When he addresses failure, he exhorts people to become what they are, and to repent. He doesn't admit to being a continuing failure himself. (I assume that Paul is not talking autobiographically about his experience as a Christian in Romans 7.) Paul doesn't emphasize God's grace to forgive, he stresses grace to live. In short, Paul is not one to sympathize with moral weakness. His life and letters give little comfort to those who, like me, sometimes feel stalled, who need to start over again, and again, and again. Paul left his σκύβαλα (Phil 3:8) when he met the Messiah; what about those of us who sometimes look inside and σκύβαλα is all we see?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I ponder that all the time. My pastor recently taught Greek to a cohort of Roman Catholic seminarians and he had them and our church's seminary students over for a translation/exegesis party. We translated 1 John out loud. John wrote to keep us from sinning, he assumes Christians are not without sin, but he knows that whoever sins is of the devil... since Jesus is the just one and the atonement, if we confess our sins God forgives them and cleanses us (keeps on cleansing) from unrighteousness. That's my hope...cause I see σκυβαλα in my heart every time I read the Bible.