A Tale of Two Cities
It is good, important, nay vital that we never grow dim sighted with respect to our own sin. Gospel courage is that ability to look unflinchingly into the mirror of the Word that shows how hideous we are. We all still see only dimly, but in a grand irony, the more we grow in grace, the more we mature, the less spotted we become, the more clear the mirror becomes and the more of our ugliness we see. The more deeply we look into our sins, however, the more we understand and give thanks for His grace.
That said, it is likewise fitting and appropriate that we should celebrate that grace that not only justifies us, but sanctifies us. That is, we are actually getting better, and we do ourselves and the kingdom no favor if we piously seek to deny that gospel truth. We are getting better, and it shows. We get better still when we rejoice over how we are getting better.
Last week I had the privilege of addressing the Christian Home Educators of Colorado multiple times at their annual convention. I enjoyed my time, and was warmly welcomed. I was encouraged the whole time I was there. When the convention ended, however, I left the sheltered confines of this Christian homeschooling crowd and ventured out to a local restaurant. The contrast was shocking.
One group was busy working and learning; the other was busy forgetting and consuming. One group was joyful and peaceful; the other was sullen and crass. One group was gentle spirited and modest; the other was harsh and aggressively sexual. One group looked like the City of God; the other the City of Men. The power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Christians was undeniable. The absence of that power in the world was likewise undeniable.
I am well aware, as a sinful Christian, that Christians sin. I am in turn aware that every human being still bears the remnants of the image of God. But it would be the worst form of political correctness to suggest a moral equivalency between the church and the world. All people are sinners and all people bear God’s image. The church is not made up of good people, but repentant people. But it is also made up of people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who are growing in grace and wisdom, who are not only forgiven, but who are being cleansed (I John 1:9). We are not showing our piety but our ingratitude for the work of the Spirit in us when we deny that we have been and are being changed.
My goal here in turn isn’t to dial up our pride within the church. It is instead to encourage us that we are on the right path, and better still, to push us to greater gratitude for how God is working in us. We ought also to be encouraged in this—not only are we all being sanctified, made more like our Lord and Savior, but we are seeing what I call progressive familial sanctification. Our children, collectively, are doing so much better than we. The gospel is at work in our families. May He make more clear the glory of His Son and His gospel in our children’s children and beyond.