Saturday, December 13, 2014
Repentance and Brokenness
I've been reading a book by Larry Crabb, Men & Women Enjoying the Difference. I'm halfway through chapter four and he hasn't talked about the difference between men and women yet at all. Instead he is talking about the way we deal with the hurts that inevitably come into relationships. He suggests two general ways Christians address these hurts and broken places, either through psychological counseling where we identify the hurts and sympathize with them or the traditional Biblical approach that says "just read the Scripture and DO what it says". He spends these first chapters explaining these approaches and showing how neither one really deals with our root sin of self-centeredness. Here in chapter four he discusses two ways of dealing with sin. "When we realize we've done something wrong, we typically do one of two things: either we quickly apologize or we wonder why we did it. The first response looks biblical but often reflects a shallow repentance that leads to no enduring change. The second keeps counselors in business but like the first one, it rarely leads to joyful other-centeredness." And then a few paragraphs later, "A moralistic approach that defines sin as merely wrong behavior fails to get at the root problem of justified self-centeredness any better than a more psychological approach that stresses damage as central. Whenever people proudly acknowledge that their problem is sin, you can be certain they have no idea what they are talking about. And when confession is easily made, followed by confident resolve to bear the fruit of repentance, you can conclude the same thing. Unless Christian teachers bear the marks of brokenness, their teaching will not highlight grace. More often, their study of Scripture will feed a harsh judgmentalism that enforces rules and delights to reprimand. Such teaching will entice few to follow Christ.
"There is no such thing as 'easy' confession. True confession is always an agonizing process. Brokenness over personal sin is a necessary step in learning to love graciously. Routine confession of easily admitted sin does not deal adequately with our faults. Neither a surface look at sin nor a deep look at damage will disrupt self-centeredness."
I am very much looking forward to the next section which is titled, "A THIRD WAY".
I think the LORD is speaking to me about brokenness and repentance - I need it! When a topic comes up in more than one place you can pretty much figure God is trying to tell you something. Last night after a ladies tea where the Berge family sang, I had a chance to talk with Becky. We haven't taken time to catch up for a very long time. She is a precious sister in the Lord and wise and godly. I asked her how she managed to pass on a certain value to her girls who have stood strong against culture in this area. Her answer really struck me, especially as I'm already reading the above book - she said, "Ken and I repented of our own sin and the girls saw our brokenness and chose the truth without our having to formally teach it to them." Wow! How much sin and error is in my children because I have failed to recognize my own sin and to repent in deep brokenness?
I also read this blog post yesterday by Jennifer Neyhart about "the Un-dragoning of Eustace" from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (click on her name to read her post - she says it so much better than I can). Eustace's experience with Aslan seems to go along with the ideas from Men and Women. The deep repentance that really brings transformation requires a touch of God on our hearts, a work that is deeper than we can conjure up on our own.
I hear you, Lord! Show me the way and do the needed work in me!