Who We Are & Who We Can Be Pt. 6

In the history of television there is no more despicable man than Seinfeld’s George Costanza.  George is lazy, compulsive, manipulative, a skinflint, and a poor latex salesman.

What’s interesting about George isn’t merely that he’s a bad person, it’s that he might be America’s most beloved bad person.

No matter how terribly George behaved over 9 seasons on America’s greatest sitcom, the television audience never stopped rooting for him.

George Costanza, while dishonest, was quite possibly the finest depiction of the banal and neurotic nature of human depravity ever presented in western culture.  His sad-sack suffering was always the result of his inability to be considerate of any desire other than his own.  This impulsiveness was consistently the source of his own undoing.

Which makes him a lot like you and me.

George’s behavior revealed his nature, and his nature influenced his behavior, in a downward spiral that was as entertaining as it was revelatory of the human condition.

I’d suggest to you that we don’t hate George because we identify with him.

We tend to root for unsuccessful people who are flawed in the same way that we are.  This is probably because it helps us feel better about our own lack of success.  We also tend to vilify both the successful and those whom we find to be inferior to us.  In short, we hope to elevate our position by squashing the field.

George is unique in that he makes us feel better about ourselves,
without having to knock him down to look better to others.

If I were to tell you about someone who had used their position of authority to take sexual advantage of a woman, then ordered the murder of her husband, you’d probably immediately begin feeling better about yourself.

I know I would.

If I also told you that this man’s sons were rapists and murderers, you probably wouldn’t want him serving in political office.  If you know anything about the Bible, you know I’m describing Israel’s second king, David.

David, the little boy who killed the giant.

David was an extremely flawed person.  Like all Biblical characters he was as capable of great deeds as he was despicable deeds.

Which also makes him a lot like you and me.

The book of 2nd Samuel details the account of David’s epic failure involving the wife of one of his greatest warriors.

While his army was at war David sent for the wife of Uriah the Hittite; a woman named Bathsheba.  After sleeping with her he sent her back home.  When she turned up pregnant David called Uriah back from the front, got him drunk, and sent him home.  He was hoping that Uriah would believe that he’d impregnated his wife while on leave.

The warrior Uriah was too faithful to David, he wouldn’t go home.  He stayed at the palace and then headed back to the war.

David sent a sealed message along with him.

When Uriah arrived at the battlefront he delivered the message to the commanding officer.  The message said that Uriah should be put at the fiercest point of the battle, and then abandoned to die.

Uriah didn’t know he was carrying his own death sentence.

When the battle was over, and Uriah was dead, David took Bathsheba into his home and made her one of his wives.  It seemed like he had gotten away with it all.

When you compare the sins of David with his those of his predecessor Saul, Saul actually comes out looking a lot better:

Saul wasn’t very devious.

Saul never stole somebody’s wife.

Saul didn’t murder anybody.

Saul was removed from kingship, but David was a man after God’s own heart?

I’m learning that when it comes to the Maker of the Universe, it’s not really what we think about our sins that determine our relationship, it’s how we respond to his judgement about them.

Each one of us sins.

This means that our relationship with God is broken in a way that we can’t repair on our own.  While my wickedness may seem more pedestrian than someone else’s, it still hurts and angers God.  Here’s the good news:

Because of his mercy and generosity he graciously arranges confrontations regarding our sin.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” –Proverbs 27:5-6

Long before Jesus Christ came to earth to confront, and ultimately pay the price for our sins, God was confronting humanity for “who we were” and challenging us about “who we were going to be.”  In this series we have looked into God’s direct confrontation of Adam, Eve, and Cain.

God also confronted:
Judah with Tamar,
Saul with Samuel,

And David?

God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David.

Nathan came to David’s throne and told him a story about a wealthy landowner who had stolen a beloved sheep from his poor neighbor.  Incensed by the injustice of the story, David declared, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!”

David didn’t know he was issuing his own death sentence.

Nathan wasted no time in pointing out that David was the very man that he was talking about, only instead of livestock David was callously playing with human lives.  The prophet pressed his point by rebuking David for believing that he was capable of providing for his own needs through the power that God had entrusted to him.

David wasted no time demonstrating the difference between him and Saul.

“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”2 Samuel 12:13

David didn’t attempt an explanation.

He didn’t offer any excuses.

He didn’t attack his confronter.

He simply agreed with God about his sin, and God showed him mercy.

While we live in a different time and place than David, things have not really changed all that much have they?

Our sins reveal who we are.

God makes his judgements.

He arranges for confrontations.

We have the choice to agree or disagree.

Our decision is to remain who we are or become as God wants us to be.

Choosing to Deny, Deflect, Distract, or Minimize is choosing to disagree with God.  It’s saying that we’ll join our parents in “knowing good and evil”; we will make the determination of what is right or wrong for ourselves.  Doing this maintains a life trajectory that leads to rebellion and hostility with God and humanity.

In his righteousness and justice God will allow us to this.  He will give us over fully, and like Saul we will receive all of the consequences that come from attempting to create a reality apart from him.

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice…” –Romans 1:28-29

Choosing to agree with God, and then submitting to him through confession and repentance, sets a new trajectory for our lives.  This new trajectory is not only the “narrow path” that Jesus speaks of, but it is also the purpose Jesus gives for his coming to earth in Matthew 9:15, “…for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Rejecting our own definition of righteousness, self-righteousness, and accepting God’s definition of righteousness, Jesus Christ, is the way that we stop making excuses for “who we are” and start becoming “who God created us to be”.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.  None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live.  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”  -Ezekiel 18:21-23

A Godly response to Godly confrontation is something that set David apart from so many others. This begs questions about how David was able to offer an acceptable response to God during his moment of confrontation, and how we can replicate this in our own lives?

I submit that in his faithfulness and humility David arranged regular confrontations with God regarding his heart.

David had made motivational examination a part of his spiritual disciplines.  The Psalms are a treasure trove regarding David’s heart and they reveal that David regularly opened himself to God, allowing him to sift his thoughts and desires. Psalm 7 is specific illustration of David giving an answer to an accuser, but only after opening his heart to the Lord to determine whether or not the allegations were true.

Because David had learned to hear the voice of God, and valued this opinion above his own, he was able to recognize Nathan’s words as God’s.  Allowing God to have authority over him in his daily affairs meant that when God stepped in to correct his rebellious affair, he was able to receive it.

Unlike Saul, or George Costanza, David was capable of both considering and obeying desires other than his own.

 When I was seven I was caught shoplifting

I revealed “who I was” by what I’d chosen to do.

I was confronted by my parents.

I lied.

An investigation into the facts, revealed the truth.

The diligence of Godly people brought me to confession.

It was the first step in a new movement.

That movement was the first in a new direction.

That new direction became the new trajectory for my life.

Through confession and repentance I’ve been discovering who I can be, in Christ, ever since.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
-2 Corinthians 13:5

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