November 23, 2008

the absurdity of sin

Quotes from Seeking the Face of God by Gary Thomas

Chapter 4 - Holiness of the Heart: Avoiding Sin and Temptation

"Our quest to understand holiness begins with understanding the absurdity of sin."

"Sin creates massive disturbances in our lives; holiness brings peace."

"A performance-based Christian says, "I want to do this, but I know I shouldn't. I must either find a way to not do this or to not get caught." The relation-based Christian asks, "Who do I want to be in love with? My Lord or this sin?""

"Christianity, with its moral calling, may seem repressive to the world, but when we see sin as it really is (slow suicide), the moral calling of Christianity takes on a whole new light. "

"Sin is not inviting but debilitating; holiness is not burdensome but liberating."

"We feel God's redeeming love and grace when we get together with some believers. Their holiness is a warm hearth, a shelter that invites us to come in from the cold. Even though we sense an underlying strength that tells us sin and manipulation are not acceptable in their presence -- and this can be somewhat fearful -- we still find ourselves drawn to them.

"There are others whose holiness seems to be a prison. It is forced, uncomfortable, and ragged at the edges. The biting edge of accusation and judgment pushes us away from them. When they talk about sin, their voices seem marked by fear, not understanding or wisdom."

"We cease from sin not just because we are disciplined, but because we have found something better."

"Focusing on sin, either by committing it or by being consumed with fighting it, keeps us from practicing God's presence. God forbid that we should ever define ourselves or our days solely by what we didn't do. Let us instead be people who define ourselves by practicing God's presence."

Chapter 1 quotes
Chapter 2 quotes
Chapter 3 quotes


Katie said...

Does he go into what he means by practicing the presence of God?

Lynn Bruce said...

In a sense, Katie, the whole book is about that idea. These first chapters have built steadily toward the idea of discerning the difference between seeking to know God and merely knowing about God.

To point a beam at a small facet of that idea: the person who seeks to know God would live in daily relationship with Him -- in acute awareness of His presence -- and would practice loving Him in an immediate way throughout the course of each day... whereas the person who merely wants to know about God would naturally be more inclined to focus on piety and sin -- the do's and don'ts, so to speak -- rather than on knowing and loving God Himself.

That is not to suggest that Thomas downplays our need to acknowledge our sin and strive to overcome it. But his thesis seems to be that if we are in love with the Saviour and actively make a practice of acknowledging His presence, our relationship with Him -- our awareness of His loving presence -- will prove a more vital and intense antidote to our temptations to sin than all our self-focused attempts at performance of piety could ever be.

I keep thinking, Katie, about the science of relations... it seems like everything worth thinking about always comes back to that, doesn't it?