Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two Ways

I think it a good thing when a verse of scripture hangs about inside your head causing you to spend some well deserved time contemplating its words and what it should mean to you.
Most everyone is familiar with the Robert L. Stevenson novel about Jekyll & Hyde. I think that the author does an outstanding job of illustrating two very distinct natures and the battle that goes on within the heart.

"I resolved in my future conduct to redeem the past; and I can
say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful of some good. You
know how earnestly, in the last months of the last year, I labored
to relieve suffering; you know that much was done for others....
(But as) I smiled, comparing myself with other men, comparing
my active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their
the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over
me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering....I looked
down...I was once more Edward Hyde."

I can say without wavering that I fully understand.
He could of been writing about me.

A week ago I was chatting with a some people who were sharing some information about someone they know and the ongoing struggle this particular person lives with.
There are more details including some very personal issues.
I inquired as to how this "resonated" with them.
They were both quick to deny my use of the word in relation to either of them.
I understand what the word means & I was not trying to be offensive.
But what I was really wanting to know was how having this information, getting to know this individual, hearing him speak very personally of his "struggle", what kind of effect did it have on them.
After all, we all struggle with one thing or another.
Quietly I retreated, saying nothing and the conversation went on in another direction.
Later, alone with my thoughts I went over the conversation in my head, something I do often. I wanted to explain what I meant. We all suffer to some degree as a direct result of the sin issue and the constant upheaval of the heart. And, sometimes just knowing what someone else struggles with can help to sense our own needs.
Good and evil, we all wrestle with something. Some more than others.
I felt like I had offended their sense of goodness.

I like what Timothy Keller has to say about the "two ways" in his book.
The first is by saying, "I am going to live my life the way I want."
The second is, if you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you, then ironically, you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper but you are avoiding him as Savior. You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God."
Pure and simple.
I am not saying that this is what is going on with this couple.
To be completely honest, I don't really know them that well, not really.
On the contrary.
I sense the power struggle of Jekyll v. Hyde going on in my own heart. Not to the same extent the author portraits but the darkness can still be there. That is to say, that sometimes the sin nature comes out in ways that I might not see but others sure can notice.

And there are some people in my life where I find it difficult to survive being around them and the morality that follows closely behind.
It feels like a hindrance, a barrier that makes it very difficult to know the "real" person. The guy or gal who is much the same as me, a struggling believer who knows I am accepted as myself, in the company of other like-minded folks.
So, I retreat.

"Pharisaic religion doesn't just damage the inner soul, it also creates social strife."

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