I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate. But if I’m doing the thing that I don’t want to do, I’m agreeing that the Law is right. But now I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it’s sin that lives in me. I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it. Romans 7:15-20 CEB
The stranger’s coffee shop confession sounded an awful lot like Paul’s confession in Romans 7. This is a very inconvenient truth. Isn’t loving God supposed to somehow change us? What about this verse?
Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again. Galatians 5:1 CEB
Doesn’t this sound like sin can be killed off? Is Galatians suggesting that we try harder? Is addiction our fault? Is our sin the devil’s fault? Would a good exorcism straighten us right out?
Come on – we know better than that, right?
For today, here’s what I’d like to focus on.
There are no simple answers or quick fixes to the compulsivity that humans often turn to for a variety of reasons. Lost-found-fine makes for a great testimonial if we are trying to sell Jesus, but it is, in my opinion, a shameless marketing ploy. Paul, the coffee shop stranger, me, Scott, and I dare say you – we all are a messy mix. What can we say about such things? How do we love each other when this love opens us up to heartbreak and disorientation? What do we do when we discover that our love for God has not provided a cure for our sin? Read on. We can read Romans 8. We can accept the disorientation and the promise of reorientation it might bring. Decades ago, I thought that if I loved Jesus enough nothing bad would happen to me or mine. I was sooooooo wrong.
Tomorrow, we will talk about what it means to come to believe in a God who does not provide a magic cure for what ails us.