A Wretch Like Me

There are days when I get up here and honestly don’t have much to say. Today is one of those days. I have been reading a lot and I have been working on various things but none of them are ready to share. I have a meeting down at Sylvan Hills Camp tonight for all the deans from this past summer. It’s about a two hour drive one way and then the meeting may go two hours as well. I have to leave here by 4:45 (at the latest) to get there for the meeting. If we finish at 9:00 I’ll get home around 11:00. It’s a long drive but it’s for a good cause, so I don’t mind.

I’ve been watching people on social media for the last day or so. I can’t even begin to sum up all of the ridiculous things I have seen. It doesn’t matter the topic either. President Obama? Check. Pope Francis? Check? Donald Trump? Check. Planned Parenthood? Check. Same Sex Marriage? Check.

Like I said, everyone has an opinion about everything. Truthfully, I’m no different. I have opinions about every single one of those things I just posted. Some of my opinions are very strong and I am passionate in my beliefs concerning them. However, I just cannot bring myself to rant and rave in a public forum, no matter how right I think I am. I think that a lot of people damage (even destroy) their reputations and their witness for Christ when they jump into these social media debates. I have been guilty in the past, so I’m doing my best not to cast the first stone.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I need God. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the world is a dark place and that we (as Christians) should be taking the light of Jesus out into the darkness. Can we really do that if we’re getting caught up in all these issues that distract us from the task? Is it wrong to have political beliefs? Of course not. However, I don’t think espousing my personal political leanings should come before my responsibility to tell people about Jesus. I just don’t.

Paul, in Romans 5:8, says that when we were still sinners, Jesus loved us enough to die for us. He didn’t wait for us to get our stuff in order. He didn’t wait for us to figure it all out. He didn’t wait for us to let go of all our sinful baggage. He loved us just as we were and he died for us. Now, I believe that because of his love for us, we should become living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). We should be willing to put him first.

I don’t know why, but there are too many of us who call ourselves Christians that believe those sinners out there in the world need to get it all together before we can reach out and love them. We want them to clean up and then come to church with us. We can’t have dirty, broken, and unacceptable folks sitting in the pews (or chairs) can we? Even though I know I am supposed to love people, regardless of who they are, I still struggle from time to time.

I never did like the song Amazing Grace when I was growing up. I don’t know why. It’s possible that it was due to the fact that we always sang it like a funeral dirge. It was so slow and depressing. I think it is also possible that it was because of the lyrics. It took a long time for me to quit believing that I had to be good enough. I couldn’t be saved if I wasn’t a good little boy. There was no way God could love…well…a wretch like me. On the other hand, there were those times when I thought I was doing it all right. I was getting all my check marks and little gold stars. I wasn’t a wretch. No way…no how.

It’s funny, Amazing Grace is now one of my favorite songs of all time…and it has nothing to do with the tempo. In fact, the version I’m getting ready to share isn’t exactly peppy. For me, now, it’s ALL about the lyrics. I know that Jesus loved me even when he shouldn’t have. I once was lost but now I’m found. He didn’t have to do that for a wretch like me.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

John Newton


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