“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws….” (Matt Lauer, in his apology statement released this morning)
Soul searching is always a good thing. If you’ve been reading my posts for any amount of time you’ll know I believe this is true. But we don’t find ‘troubling flaws’ in our souls, we find sin. I know this is a terribly unpopular stance to take in the world in which we currently live.
A flaw is something that mars perfection. Perhaps that is what Matt Lauer means? This ‘unfortunate’ episode has now marred the world’s image of his well-crafted perfection? I actually get that.
Because I understand all too well the pull towards self-made perfection. I can identify with the seduction of being admired by all; honored above all; my will always done. I am also well acquainted with the daily temptation to expect all people to stop what they’re doing and pour out their lives for my comfort and pleasure.
But that pull towards personal perfection doesn’t emanate from a ‘troubling flaw’. It’s coming from the depths of hell and wants to draw me into sin and death. And what is sin, then, since it’s talked about so rarely these days?
Sin is trusting in my own wisdom, prowess, ethics, and judgment. It is believing in my soul that men and women should bow down and pour themselves out for me. Sin sees itself (myself) as above and beyond any correction. It agrees with the lie that I am *at least* as equal as God.
Sin’s goal in the end is to draw me away – to cut me loose – from God.
She listens to no voice;
She accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord;
She does not draw near to God. (Zephaniah 3:2)
But here is good news: Jesus didn’t die for ‘troubling flaws’.
Jesus was tempted in every way. He was tempted to make himself something; to bend the wills of others to suit his own; to take what was not rightfully his to take. He too was tempted to have the world bow down on his own terms – but he didn’t.
For Jesus, even though he was God’s only son, did not consider this something to be used to his own advantage. Instead he used his divine ‘advantage’ to become the spotless lamb his father would sacrifice on the cross to secure the souls of many. Jesus refused to turn away from the cross and cut us loose.
And even though he was perfectly obedient, Jesus died a shameful death at the hands of God for sinners like me, you, and Matt Lauer. He was marred beyond recognition, broken, and insulted by the ones he came to save and secure. Jesus gave up his body; his spirit; and with that beautiful offering ensured that nothing would ever separate us from God again.
No, Jesus didn’t leave heaven to suffer for nothing. And he surely didn’t die for ‘troublesome flaws’ that we could fix ourselves with a little effort and soul searching.
And so a season of true soul searching is always appropriate. But don’t your waste time searching for ‘troubling flaws’ that have marred your perfection. Open your hearts instead to the the God of infinite mercy. Commit your spirit to the Lamb who was slain. Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the sin that crouches in the dark rooms of our hearts behind doors we’d prefer to stay tightly closed.
And then repent. Humble yourself and ask for forgiveness from the Holy One who is able to forgive you of all your sins, clothe you in righteousness, restore your soul, and keep you in perfect peace. And He will do all these things because a contrite heart he will not despise.
“But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord.
Those who are left in Israel shall do no injustice,
They will speak no lies,
Nor shall be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down.
And none shall make them afraid.”
Peace to you and yours until tomorrow. Advent is almost here!
(Today’s reading from Zephaniah 3:1-13)