atonement and reparation

The following is a quote from Derek Webb on his album The House Show. He articulates how I’ve been feeling these days.

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This is a song about repentance, something that I think we, as the American church, can stand to learn quite a bit about. A lot yet to repent of. I think that we often believe, if we’re really honest with ourselves, that the Christian life is about how well we can learn to hide our sin. Honestly, I think a lot of us, and I do this all the time, we think that we’ll be able to measure the growth of our spirituality by how little we are sinning. Or maybe at least how little we can convince everyone, ourselves included, that we are sinning.

But the Christian life is not about hiding. It’s not about living in fear. Gosh, that’s what we all do, though, is it not? We just live in fear all the time that we’ll be found out. I’m telling you, the best thing that could ever happen to anybody in this room, the best thing, is that your sin would be literally exposed on the 5 o’clock news. Your deepest, darkest, most embarrassing sin, the one you work the hardest to hide, would be broadcast on the 5 o’clock news – best thing that would ever happen to you, best thing that would ever happen to me.

Because I am so weary, I am so tired, of hiding my sin from people; of deceiving people at who I really am. I’m tired of it. I just wish my sins would be just exposed; I wish there were huge screens that would just show you the truth about me – all the way down to my core. In order that you would know me for who I really was, in order that I could not, I did not even have the option, to hide from you any more. In order that I would have nothing but Jesus to grasp on to, because that’s all I’ve got anyway.

Because the truth is: your sins have been exposed as if they were on the 5 o’clock news, they’ve been exposed to Jesus. He knows you better that you’re willing to even admit to yourself. But he’s forgiven you! Take joy in the fact, not that your sins are not real, but that they ARE real and that your savior is real. I cannot tell you this enough times in hopes that any of us, one of us, even me, might believe this. I’ll never tire of saying this to people, I’ll never tire of hearing it myself, because by the time I go to sleep tonight, I’m not going to believe it again. I’m gonna be thinking of ways to hide my sin from people in hopes they might like me or something.

That’s not what my Christian life is all about. That’s not what sanctification is all about. That’s not what growth as a believer is all about. It’s about coming to grips with who we really are and about being willing to admit that to each other. In order that that might happen in your community, that others might come to you and say ‘You know, I heard you talking about this sin, and that was bold of you, brave of you, to admit that. You know, it’s kinda leading me to repent as well. I wanna tell you something; I want to invite you in to where I hide in hopes that I might not hide there anymore. Make it harder for me to go back there, because the light switch has been turned on.’

Please, please, begin preaching the gospel to each other in a way that you might actually believe it, and in a way that you might actually come out of hiding, and that it might change our communities. I mean, am I the only one sick of living in American subcultural Christianity where we encourage each other to hide, we encourage each other to put on these faces? That is not what the Christian life is all about.

It’s no wonder, statistically, that our church is losing relevance by the day. It’s no wonder we’re so stagnant. We don’t believe the Gospel. It has not failed us, we have just failed to believe it. And I want to just really encourage you guys. And I’m going to start with some of my very own repentance.

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