These posts are supposed to be Logos-related so I might be stretching it a bit with this one…
I recently bought a book by D. A. Carson called Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church that I hoped would be an intelligent critique of the emerging church “not-a-movement.” I’m still not sure whether it is intelligent or anything else because my wife started reading it before I got a chance to pick it up.
But one paragraph she read aloud came to mind today…
Some leader, perhaps Mike Yaconelli, was quoted as saying that we don’t need to talk about sin anymore. People these days know all about their sin it’s the message of grace that they need to hear.
Personally, I’m not ready to stop hearing about my sin because I don’t think I take it seriously enough. It doesn’t grieve me the way it ought, and I don’t hate it as passionately as I ought. All in all, I think our age takes sin very lightly compared with at least some ages past.
In fact, downplaying sin in preaching and hymnody is certainly not unique to any one movement or denomination; I would say it’s become a defining characteristic of whole swaths of Christendom. The point of this post is not to offer a critique of the emerging church movement but rather a counterpoint to our collective and individual willingness to get chummy with sin.
Consider these words preached by John A. Broadus, which I recently came across in Take Heart, an excellent devotional included in a new prepub collection. Broadus’ words strike me like a gust of northern air, bracing and chilling, yet carrying the clarion call of redemption…
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30
What has sin done for you that you should desire it? It brought death and woe into the world. It has filled the earth with suffering and sorrow. It has made it necessary that Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, should suffer and die to make atonement for it. It has brought on you much unhappiness now and many fears for the future. By your sins you have incurred the just anger of him who made youalready they rise mountain high, and still you go on in your sinfulness, storing up wrath against yourself for the day of Gods wrath (Rom. 2:5). You shudder when you think of death, you tremble when you think of God, for you know well that you are not prepared to die, that you cannot meet your Maker and Judge in peace. And not only has sin brought on you all these sufferings and fears, but you cannot rid yourself of it.
It has made you unhappy, filling you with craving, unsatisfied desires; it has bound you with cords you cannot burst; it has brought on you the indignation and wrath of almighty God, which you cannot atone for. Isnt it then a burden of which you would like to be relieved? If so, hear the Saviors own invitation and go to him. He will take off the heavy load that crushes you, and you will find rest for your souls. He will intercede in your behalf before God, he will take away your guilt by the sacrifice he has offered, he will wash away all your iniquity and cleanse you from your sin.
Do you fear that God is angry with you and will not hear your prayer? It is true, God is angry with the wicked, and the sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord. You may not mock the offended majesty of God by going to him in your own name and trusting in your own righteousness. But you may go to Jesusyou are invited to go to him. He is the appointed mediator between God and you. Go and ask him to intercede for you. And then through him draw near to the throne of grace. Make mention of his merits, plead his atoning sacrifice, rely wholly on what he has done, and Gods anger is turned awayhe will hear, he will pardon, and your soul will live. If then you are burdened with a sense of your unworthiness, go to Jesus, and you will not go in vain.
John A. Broadus