Growing up in a Pentacostal Church, I’ve heard my fair share of “Fire and Brimstone” messages.
As a little girl, I remember shaking in my ruffled dress, at the thought of being eternally banned to that horrid place called hell- without any water or relief. Church messages usually sent me home to take an inventory of my most recent acts. Mmmm, I did lie to sister about trying on her dress; and the way I talked to mama- that was bad.
I can recall a time (Tee-hee) leaving church and returning home where my siblings and I made a pact. “Ok- so we are going to stop sinning. If any one sins…” We went on to set rules and guidelines. We identified our sins and decided to hold each other accountable.
Aaah… the naivite of a child. This definitely should have been recorded. I even remember us discussing the conscience; attempting to wrap our little minds around that internal voice that directed and convicted us.
No matter haw many declarations we made, or even the plans we put in place, we kept missing the target. Whether it was a direct miss: I am going to intentionally lie to my parent, or an indirect miss: I lost my temper and smacked my brother, we couldn’t help ourselves.
At an early age, I felt what one of my favorite bible characters felt, when he said in Romans 7:15
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
He goes on to say, in the latter part of v18-19
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
This is true Man vs Himself. It is one thing to become a Christian, it is another to decide to live as a Christian. The struggle is real! I knew as a little girl, frustrated that I could not stop sinning to avoid hell; I know it now as an adult woman who keeps slipping up.
We’ve all heard the statement: Christians are some of the biggest sinners. While, I am not sure what constitutes as the biggest vs the smallest sinners, I can agree that we are sinners. Being a Christian does not equal perfection! We do not have it all together. We are simply sinners who have been shown the grace of God.
I could list countless times when I beat myself over the head over yet another screw up.
- “I told myself next time so and so criticized the way I run my home, I would simply…, but instead I …” Oh, how frustrating.
- I promised: “From now on, when I notice a dirty dish in the sink, I’ll just wash it, without complaining…
- “The next time this co-worker approaches me with gossip, ill…” Eek! “Oh wretched man that I am.” Rom 7:24
For some it is a slip up; for others it is a constant struggle. Whatever form it takes, sin is sin. It is missing the mark.
It is ok to be imperfect. It is expected that we will sin. The beauty with looking at our weakness, is it forces us to seek something greater. It points us to his strength. How else can we continue? What hope do we have?
In Rom 7:24-25, it goes on to say: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?
I thank God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!