More Fashionable Fig Leaves

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law.Romans 3:20a (NIV)

We have been talking about the topic shame among our local gathering of Jesus’ followers. It’s been a fascinating discussion and I’ve been amazed at all that is getting stirred up. Positive change doesn’t happen amidst complacency. Yesterday the observation was made that our shame can motivate all sorts of indulgent behaviors that act as spiritual drugs to numb out the core pain in our hearts. Many become addictions. All are ultimately destructive, but some are more socially acceptable than others.

God’s Message teaches that everyone sins and falls short. Along life’s road I’ve discovered that some sins are prettier than others. Sometimes sin starts out as good, even godly, behavior. But when a good behavior becomes indulgent, when it is motivated by self-serving need to cover up and keep up appearances, then it ceases to be good.

Hard work provides a living; being a workaholic starves relationships.

Eating is necessary for life; Gluttony hastens death.

Provision meets basic needs; materialism feeds unhealthy wants.

Organization gives life order; obsessive/compulsive behavior leads to chaos.

Morality brings peace to community; Self-righteousness brings division and conflict.

For most of my life I’ve observed that the institutional church has focused on the ugly sins (drugs, alcohol, sexual excess, crime, violence, et al) while largely ignoring the pretty ones. One of the things I most admire (and try to emulate) in Jesus was that he acted opposite of the institutional church. He had all sorts of grace, love and mercy for those mired in ugly sins while not excusing their behavior. His harshest words were for those who had indulged in pretty sins while claiming to be righteous.

Today I’m thinking about one of the core truths of Jesus’ message: That no one enters the Kingdom of God having earned their admittance. No matter how pretty our lives may appear. We’re all, every one of us, spiritually naked. Some of us simply wear more fashionable fig leaves.

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