Prepare to dive
by Jim Hutson
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I have been serving you poorly, those of you who have been hanging out for the Larry Crabb updates I promised in a timely manner. I have read the chapters, and have reread them to highlight certain statements and even re-re-read them to reorientate myself to express what I have learned. I ask forgiveness......and a hint of warning...
Are you ready to dive?
We have established in the last installment of the study of Dr. Crabb's INSIDE OUT, that God loves us so much that we cannot, regardless of how broken and sinful we have been, ever be unable to ask for that love and be renewed in the spirit to a point of redemption. Unlike most declarations from the churches of the world, we can move in a broken state in redemption and salvation. There is no promise, whether implied or expressed, that our lives will suddenly be 'perfect' or 'joyful' once we accept salvation's gift. Rather, quite the opposite. We can still suffer, DO still suffer, because of the broken, misaligned creation we both live in and are ourselves.
Paul considered it true joy to suffer for Christ's sake, because it brings us closer to God and Jesus. But I digress.
Chapter Two and Three, respectively are entitled "An Inside Look Can Be Frustrating" and "Knowing What to Look For." I would say both these chapters are preparation chapters, for the dive that none of us want to take, because of our unclear and untruthful expression of what we fear to find there and then how we can possibly deal with such depth pressure. Niether this book or the process it champions is for the weak-hearted, and yet we all are weak-hearted for we'd not be in this position of pretending our lives are 'joyful and complete' in our humanistic needs.
So, just as if we were trully preparing to dive into the depths of the physical seas, we have to literally look at what we can expect, in the wide view of changing, and then some guidelines to help us realize the dangers and pitfalls we could find ourselves unconsciously bound by.
Dr. Crabb states that most of us don't want simply to be "someone of behavorial patterns and biblical knowledge that are commendable," but rather "a different kind of person." We don't want to exchange one brand of jeans for another pair that's a different color, but the same brand. We want to find those comfortable, "NEW" jeans that are unlike anything we've ever worn. And we will come to realize that the only way to truly affect the change in our psychological problems is to realize true, genuine love because it is the absent of that love, the agape love, that causes our broken state in the first place.
James tells us that without good works, faith cannot exist. And that without faith, good works cannot exist. I finally understand that comment in a different way. Our moral effort will not produce genuine, agape love alone. It is the process that includes learning how to love in a genuine, pure way that creates maturity in our spirituality that coupled with moral effort produces the victory in those psychological problems we as Christians face.
The problem is that most of us use our humanistic understanding and limiting of God to define the steps in that process of changing the inner person to be that 'different kind' of us. We doom ourselves to failure because we don't realize that total dependence on God is vital in the process to overcome our human nature of self preservation and limitation. And, because of that blindness, we usually create two ineffective and foolish methods to change ourselves in a humanistic way.
The first is where a majority of us fall as Christians, and is nothing more than the shallow end of the pool. We feel doing our "christian duties" will heal and vanquish our inner problems that cause our outward discontent. We feel immersing ourselves in the Word, praying to our Father in Heaven, and/or serving others are the key elements in this process of change. Since we are obedient in such ways, we don't quench or grieve the Holy Spirit where our power to change comes from. We mouth the words that "we are new creatures, the old is dead and the new is born." But, without genuine and agape love, our best efforts and obedience are worthless.
Of course, that leads us into our second 'answer' to the solution, further dependence upon the gift of the Holy Spirit from which all good things come. The promised gift that Christ said would be with us as we struggle to create this different person of ourselves. Beyond our limited and fruitless efforts to do our christian duty, we acknowledge the 'special power' that comes from the Holy Spirit that is necessary and available to us alone for that achievement of the higher ground, the better person, the CHRISTIAN. Of course, this decision to fully trust the Holy Spirit is born too often of desperation or necessitity reflects our dependence on God because we feel the capacity to love richly, to be totally God-reflective in love, will develop naturally. All we have to do is wait patiently, waiting for the muscle of agape love to grow.
We pray that the Spirit will be released to do what needs to be done to heal our sinful and broken bodies and minds, all it needs is the decisive action of faith. To believe in the ability and not take any responsiblity.
Of course, both of these 'processes' tend to leave us feeling abandoned and increasingly unworthy of God's attention in the matter of change. The best of us in these circumstances are left to try harder, abuse ourselves deeper and affect a piousness that would make the greatest monks of the world wince in pain. The weaker of us, dare I say the majority of us, fall away from the church and our faith because we think we simply are too far gone where no amount of service to our christian duty or dependence on the Holy Spirit's power have the saving power we need. We turn on God and nurse our wounds in silence.
All we truly have to do is look to Jesus' model for change that He left us in the Scriptural accounts of His life and teachings. Whereas the first two processes don't require our active invovlement and responsiblity in diving into the depths, Jesus shows us that our active struggle in overcoming the obstacles that prevent our growing into the designed person God made us to be is the vital ingredient to changing into the 'different kind' of person.
We have to courageously stare into the deepness of the water and launch ourselves off the boat, pushing ourselves into the darkness of our souls. To do this relying on our humanistic viewpoints is folly and certain death. But we don't have to. All we have to do is go into those dark recesses of our souls with the knowledge of God's answers to the problems embedded there. And to rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit to help us face those obstacles so we can drag them out of the way, or destroy them completely, so that we can assure growth.
Rather than throwing up our hands and repenting of the sins that result from the deep-rooted problems, we instead work through the deep problems that result in deep sin. We claim responsibility for our limitation of overcoming sin by clearing the depths of the problems that create the propensity to sin. Daring to be shameful of our brokeness secure in the love of a Father who is dedicated to helping us overcome that brokeness. And when we become dedicated to cleaning up the inside, we can see the cleaniness on the outside. Just as the Scriptures tells us.
Of course, the look inside is a painful and often poorly done process because we rely on our ability to do it or rely totally on the Holy Spirit to do it without our invovlement. But we can realize through what we know now that the critical issues of internal character development require taking a look inside at the psychological level with biblical revelation. In using the biblical guidelines, sought by the seeking of God in our quest for change, equips us to dive into the psychological depths of our broken, sinful souls.
Our deep longings for what we don't have reflects our true roots and our true character, it shows both our designed humanness and our Creator. But it is often our ineffective and foolish strategies that cause us to continue to live in the pain of our depravity even as we think they are helping us overcome the pain by avoiding it.
The only hope we have of developing an accurate picture of the deep routed problems is to rely on God's willingness to help us in that work. By realizing that our dive to find the satisfaction that we were built to experience requires not a movement away from God, but to dive towards God who waits to help us experience it.
The first installment in this study of INSIDE OUT, Dr. Larry Crabb's book, can be found under the title, "Broken, depressed and doing alright"
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