Dallas Willard has described our modern version of Christianity as the “Gospel of Sin-Management”, because of our propensity to think in terms of “what do I do about my sin?”. How do I stop, it? Is it sin if I…? What do I do when I do sin? How do I control my “besetting sin”? All these seem to be the central focus of christian practice. If not preventing or managing bad behavior, we are trying to foster “good” behavior. Read your Bible, Pray more. All these things seem so different from what Jesus seemed to say and do for people. How odd that the religion we named after Him promotes itself differently than He did.
It seems to me that when we go back to God’s original blueprint we might adjust (again) our view of the message and work of Jesus.
God had always intended to cover the creation with His nature, and He has always intended that His method be mankind, re-presenting, or presenting again His nature in the places we inhabit. When Adam and his wife turned the keys over to God’s adversary, God was not confused, frustrated, or shocked. This was all still part of His strategy to achieve His goal.
Part of His nature is that He is a Redeemer and and a Repairer, so to cover the creation with that, He would redeem and restore mankind. In so doing, He could resume covering the earth with Himself. As He re-forms His image in us, we re-present Him as we go. Where confusion has been we can bring clarity. Where fear has been we can deliver perfect love. Where anxiety has been, we can step in and restore peace beyond understanding.
Sure, these things don’t work as well when we are arm-wrestling our own behavior patterns, but winning the behavioral struggle was not the ultimate goal of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The cross allows us to be reconciled again to God, so that He, in us might fill the world with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, meekness, mercy and self-control.
In other words God’s goal was not to straighten out a bunch of mis-behaving miscreants, it was to bring sons and daughters back into a relationship in which His life flows through us to the creation around us.
Try hard to be good if you want, but you could just yield to a very effective transformation process, in which God Himself is making you again into the person He designed you to be. Would it make any sense at all for God to make you, and then expect you to be someone other than who He made you to be? Become Yourself….