[Jan 10]--Calling, Phase Two: Cleansing

Isaiah 6:5-7

I think if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have some major problems with modern Christianity as typically expressed in America. Of course every culture has some sin issues and some blind spots, but since I’m an American, that’s what my focus is going to be on. If I was Japanese or Indian or Peruvian, I'd probably have gripes about those societies, or at least I hope so. Anyway, two big problems I have with American Christianity are A) Its lackadaisical attitude towards sin, and B) Its overemphasis—to the point of flippancy—concerning the intimate nature of our relationship with God Almighty.

The great thing is that whatever your problem, whether personally or as a national church, the Bible has the cure for you. The underlying problem is that we tend to focus on the problem we're the least in danger from. In a church that’s overrun by antinomianism, we like to just concentrate on passages which talk about the free grace we have in Christ. If we look hard enough, I'm sure we can find churches that are in danger of legalism, but I don’t think that’s the major problem in America.

The reason I bring this up is that today’s passage, actually all of Isaiah 6:1-10, provides a great corrective for what ails us. When we fall into the trap of thinking of God as our “Buddy” and our “Pal,” then the first few verses of chapter 6 should bring us back to reality. And today we see how God deals with the issue of sin in regards to his servants and representatives.

Now, let’s think a little deeper on this. Does God use flawed people? Well, considering that it’s either that or stick with using angels from the throne, then the answer is “of course.” But what about someone who has an area of habitual rebellion? What about someone who is actively being disobedient to something God has made clear? Does he use those people as well?

My friend, our Lord uses Satan all the time to fulfill his purposes. Once again, we need only see how he manipulated sinful people and (I believe) demonic forces to accomplish the Atonement. So of course he can use someone who’s actively in rebellion as a part of his plan.

But does he use rebellious people as his representatives? That’s the more pointed question, and as near as I can tell, the answer is “No.” In fact, he takes that rather seriously. According to Paul, what was one of the Lord's major indictments of Israel? “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Israel was supposed to be the Lord’s representatives on earth, and they brought shame to his Name.

If you want to be a representative of the Lord, then it starts with a true encounter with him. I don’t mean just a point in which you “accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.” I mean a point at which you come face to face with the otherness of God. He is holy. He is sovereign. He's the One before whom angels dare not bare their faces.

When you do, you’ll quickly go from point A) God is holy to point B): You are not holy. The closer you get to him, the starker will become the sin in your life. Sins that never seemed to be that big a deal will become much more heinous in your eyes. You know what’s happening? You know how when two people spend time together, they start to become like each other? That’s the same principle here: As you spend time with him, you’ll start to become like him, and part of that will be that you start taking sin more seriously, like he does.

It’s necessary. If you’re going to represent him, then he has to start cleansing you. But you might be saying “But I’m not a preacher or a pastor or an evangelist!” Oh, please. You think you’re getting out of this just because you’re a “lay” person? If you're a believer in Jesus, then he's appointed you as his representative. And just like Isaiah, he’s not giving you much of a choice. As someone once told me, every Christian is a witness. The only question is whether they’re a good witness or a bad one.

Lord Jesus, it’s painfully obvious that I have a long ways to go in taking my sin seriously. My sin is what nailed you to the Cross. My sin was the whip lashing your back. May I never take that lightly. If I’m going to be your ambassador, I need to start representing you a lot better.

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