Just read on facebook of a Vicar doing the Ash Crosses on peoples foreheads and got their words muddled up and instead of saying: “from dust you came and to dust you shall return – turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ” and not ‘turn away from Christ and be faithful to sin”.
“The greatest cause of Atheism in this country is Christians who confess Christ with their lips but deny him by their lifestyle, that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelieveable” said Brendan Manning (not to be confused with Bernard Manning) on the DC Talk Album, “What if I stumble?” -Taken from the Title track whose first line is “What if I stumble, what if I fall, will the love continue when the walk becomes a crawl?”.
The Answers “YES” by the way!
A great verse to remember when we feel weighed down with sin and brokenness, is “a bruised reed he will not break nor will he snuff out a smoldering wick”.
God is gracious when we come to him in repentance and brokenness, in fact we see Jesus having a predisposition towards the fallen… “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous people who need no repentance” … I think here Jesus is being subversive and a little sarcastic, you see the 99 aren’t righteous, Paul tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, the problem is they think they are righteous, and it is their own pride and arrogance which will see them missing out on Salvation. This is why Jesus says “Blessed are those who know their need of God”.
It might be helpful to think of our consciences like ‘Smoke Alarms’… some smoke alarms will start bleeping away when you boil a kettle or singe the toast, I guess a battered consciences leaves some people crawl through life feeling massively condemned, and need to know that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, whereas others are like the smoke detector with a flat battery no matter how spiteful, hurtful or dishonest their actions the entire house will be engulfed in flames before the smoke detector even offers a bleep.
Interestingly I think this story can be found in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the religious one so full of blind arrogance that he leaves the temple not right or justified with God.