Can I be a sinner in your church? I know it isn’t okay that I’m a sinner. I get that I shouldn’t sin. And, I’m trying not to. But, that’s not working out so well. I’m not looking for an excuse to sin. I don’t need one. I just seem to do it! I know the right thing to do in a lot of situations, and believe me, I’d love to do that. But, I find that something else seems to drive my actions. Sinful impulses are so much easier than disciplined obedience. I want to be obedient, I think, but sometimes I’m not so sure. It is a constant wrestling match. I feel like garbage because I keep losing. In fact, I’m losing sleep over it because when my head hits the pillow, the only thing I hear is Jesus telling me that I need to be perfect, even as my heavenly Father is perfect. I hear the sermons where you gave me great advice on how to overcome my sin. I even employed some of the steps, and they worked for a while. But, I couldn’t keep it up, I am too weak, and I am still giving into the temptation. I cuss myself out when I give in. When it comes to being a Christian, I think I just constantly fail.
That leads me to ask a lot of questions. I mean, if God is supposed to be with me and helping me overcome these sins, if He’s really saved me and given me His Spirit like you say, how come I keep on sinning? I’m not blaming Him (or maybe I am), but I’m just not sure why I’m not seeing the fruit. At least, not like I see it in the lives of others. I heard those testimonies you had people give where they were able to overcome their demons through prayer and accountability, “all glory be to God,” they were quick to add. And I was thrilled for them. I amthrilled for them. But, I am not them. I don’t think I’m experiencing any growth.
I want to experience the freedom from my sin that God has given those people. But, I guess He just doesn’t want to give it to me. Or, maybe He does, but I just won’t let Him. Maybe I’m in the way... I’m the problem. Maybe I should just try harder. I think I am trying hard, but maybe my whole heart isn’t in it. I don’t know. Maybe I love my sin too much. Maybe I don’t want to change. I thought I did. But, maybe I’m in the way of the Spirit producing fruit in me.
You did say that we should bring all of our cares to God in prayer and that He would give us the strength to overcome our doubts and fears. So, I did. I prayed for God to take away my sins. I prayed for God to take away my doubts. I did everything you said. You quoted the Bible, saying that “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” But, I’ve found no availing. My struggles remain, my sin is ever before me, my doubts only increase. I guess I’m not that righteous man, because God doesn’t seem to be listening.
I keep hearing that we need to test our faith by our fruits. I feel like most of the fruit I see is artificial. You said “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” and I hated you for it. Because, you see, there is just so much I don’t love in this world because so much in this world doesn’t work the way I want it to. I know it is selfish. But that’s the whole point. I’m too selfish to love.
Can I actually say this out loud to you, Pastor? Or are you going to get too uncomfortable? Are you going to smile at me condescendingly and tell me that it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be? Are you going to just tell me I’m being too hard on myself? Because, I know I’m being hard on myself, but I deserve it. I keep on sinning, and if all of this advice and prayer won’t seem to get rid of my sin, then, it must be because something is wrong with me, there must be something God is upset with. And, that’s why He won’t take away my sins.
You can talk to me about how Jesus is really forgiving and how you want me around, but what happens when things don’t change in a month? A year? Five years? What happens when I come to you with my same sins and same struggles a long time down the road? Are you going to hand me over to Satan? Are you going to blame me? Will you just tell me to leave? Or, will you just give me more advice?
Can I be a sinner at your church, Pastor? Do you want someone who loses in the battle with sin? Will I still be welcome if you inspect my fruit only to find it is mostly fake? How long can I be a baby Christian before I’m not allowed back in? Because, from what I hear week after week, I’m not sure I’m supposed to be here at all. If I don’t experience life improvement, if my story isn’t worthy of a personal testimony, if I am stuck in my same old sins, what will you say to me? Is there anything for you to give someone like me in this church? What do you have in this place for me?
The Guy Sitting Next to the Aisle in the Back Pew this Sunday