“I’m participating in a blog series hosted by Ally Spotts called Confessions of a 20-Something Christian, where 20-Somethings get honest about their lives, loves and regrets. My confession is…I Wish I Was A Bad Kid.
I wanted to start this post off with Usher. Usher you ask? Why yes, Usher. You know, “these are my confessions.” Don’t lie, I know you do. As I type all I can hear is Usher singing that line over and over. You might be doing the same thing because that song was popular when we were teenagers. I do not want to go as far as to say it shaped the youth of America, but it sure came close.
See I have nothing to confess that is song worthy, or for that matter, worthy of making people gasp. If I was honest with you (which I am being right now), I kind of wish I had something that was gasp worthy. You know, a past? You ever go to church and hear people’s testimonies and be amazing at what they have gone through? It makes you feel like you have to do some bad stuff to have a powerful testimony. What do you do when your confessions are minor league in a major league world?
You have to understand something, I am not perfect nor do I claim to have it all together. I struggle with sin daily and make more mistakes then I can count. But sometimes the things that I struggle with don’t seem so bad stacked up against what I hear other people struggling with. I can go down the comparison checklist. I have never done drugs, never drank alcohol before 21, never been drunk, never had sex with a girl. Now if it was about keeping score I would assume that I would be winning. But to me that sounds a bit more like legalism then reality. A sin is a sin, and of that I am the chief.
The struggle for me is the battle of risk and reward.
I have this idea that God is in the reward business. The more I put in the slot machine the bigger reward I will receive in the end. I do not know how this came to be. Maybe it was all the time I spent getting up for church every Sunday at 6:30am, or the Wednesday night youth group meetings where I helped set up and tear down. There are probably several reasons why I view God this way. But the issue is that often times I treat God, relationships, and life like a giant reward system that will only produce something good if I give it something good.
You got time for a story? If not just skip to the next part. If so, well let me tell you about a girl I dated in high school.
At the time I was finishing my senior year and was headed into the summer with a girlfriend and a job. The girl was great, the job, not so much. I worked at a factory that made t-shirts. For 8 hours a day I stood behind an oven folding shirts that had just been pressed with the latest color or graphic for a company or sport team. I worked this job for two months and then decided one morning to quit. I couldn’t take the monotony, the routine, the country music (we listened to country music over the speaker), I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I did the only logical thing, I just didn’t show up. Yes it was probably bad that I didn’t show up, but what was the worse part was my timing. I decided to quit the week my boss was on vacation. This was a big deal because I left the factory two man short of a five man crew. Basically all business came to a halt until my bosses vacation was over. To make matters worse, my boss went to my church. Remember that girl I was dating, well that lasted about as long as my job did. In fact, she just stopped talking to me the week I decided to quit my job. How is that for karma. I remember one day driving in my parents subdivision and it all clicked with me. If I call and apologize to my boss my former girlfriend would call me back and we could date again. Well as you can imagine, that did not work. And so I was left with an awkward phone apology and no girlfriend.
If you missed the story, basically I thought I could trick God into giving me what I wanted. But the simply thing is that this “game” that I was trying to play would eventually bring me to a point of brokenness and frustration that I have never felt before. There was a time in college where I wanted to be the kid that made out with random girls, went to the bar, and cheated on his homework. I really wanted to take the easy way out, to do the things that everyone else was doing. I felt like there was something wrong with me, that I was the kid that couldn’t go outside to play because I had allergies. Looking back at those days in college I wish I did bad things. Maybe to fit in, but more to better understand grace.
I think the Bible is pretty clear about doing sin because we can (just read Romans), but I also think that people who have experienced grace see God differently. They understand that God is not a reward machine that gives out prizes based off how good they can be. They understand that grace is way more about a gift that you cannot earn. I have moved past wishing to be a bad kid and instead want to better understand the grace of God.
I don’t think it goes back to me wanting to be a bad kid as it is that I want to better understand grace. That I want to see God not as a vending machine but as a gift given to me that I do not deserve.
A thought to consider from Paul: Philippians 3: 4-14
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