As a fan of the Ordinary, I hope his readers are not drawn to make conclusions that they must move into extraordinary places or radical adventures in order to prove their faithfulness. Each reader can Move Toward The Mess right where they are. Surely, as Hambrick agrees, we need not look far to find messes – they are all around us – they are often self-made.
Perhaps my favorite chapter from Hambrick’s book is the seventh.
A spiritual cancer is ravaging the church in America. It twists the Christian life into a caricature of what God intends it to be. It warps our understanding of our heavenly Father. It robs the cross of is power. It makes Christianity look unattractive to any marginally healthy unbeliever. And it turns moving toward the mess into a graceless tangle of joyless religious legalism. And you know what? I bet it's something you or somebody you know struggles with.
The spiritual cancer I'm talking about is chronic guilt. Of course there is such a thing as appropriate guilt - a periodic pang of guilt can discourage us from doing something destructive. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about guilt that has become constant and malignant. We start feeling guilty all the time about all sorts of things That kind of guilt can kill your faith. (81)
In his wise words, he challenges us to leave guilt behind, not the “appropriate guilt” mind you, but the guilt that eats away as a cancer. I know so many followers of Christ who hinder their travel on the journey of living the Ordinary Life with regrets of what they wish they could do, what they wish they hadn’t done, and feelings of being ill-equipped and therefore unable to make a significant Kingdom impact.
I think often of the words of the Apostle Paul.
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Romans 7:22-24 (NIV)
Paul’s honesty here really impresses me. I’m sure that was not his intent; nevertheless, it does. He writes from his gut – a conflicted gut. Indigestion, most like. Yet, thankfully, he found and, therefore, points to the solution.
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:25a (NIV)
In the chapter that follows his seventh, Paul writes those most encouraging of words . . .
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“Nor anything else” certainly includes guilt.
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
Please share your thoughts about this blog. If you are the first to respond, I will send you a copy of Move Toward The Mess.
Hambrick, John. Move Toward The Mess. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2016.