I am Public Sinner Number One.

October 31, 2011 | forgiveness, wretch | 45 comments

Hi, I am a Sinner.

I wanted to make sure you knew that. I put the letters in bold, just in case you missed it. Just in case I did.

I may have given you the impression that I have it all together. Or maybe the secret was already out. Maybe you saw through the shined-up exterior to find the crud wedged into this two-faced heart.

You don't always see the way I mess up on this side of the computer screen. But let me be frank: I am the wretch the song refers to.

The King has called a Banquet, and someone told me it was potluck. So I looked all over the house for something to bring, but the only thing I had to bring to the table was my own sin.

And the Host said that's all He ever wanted. I knocked at the door, and He let me in anyway, with my sin in a covered-casserole dish.

***

Hi, I am a saint.

Those are harder words to write. I mean, who is holy enough to say something like that? A missionary in Uganda? The local preacher? The Pope?

Dare I call myself a saint? This woman who has goofed up too many times to count?

But I am. Sainthood does not rely on the merits of the individual, but on the identity found in Christ. I did nothing, just showed up with steaming sin at the table, fresh out of the oven.

***

Hi, I am Saint and Sinner.

I am living securely on this side of the Light, saint-side. Trouble is, I tend to keep one foot on the other side of the line, assuring my identity as sinner.

Like Paul, I am a new creation. But even Paul, toward the end of his ministry, called himself chief of all sinners.

What do I make of this?

"Simul iustus et peccator." Those were the words Martin Luther wrote to identify human beings who are, at once, both saint and sinner.

Both wretched and loved.
Both ruined and re-created.
Both wrecked and received.
Broken, and  bought back.

And how can I do anything but just weep the deepest gratitude toward the King? I don't deserve to step one wretched toe in the door of the Banquet Hall, but He ushers me to a seat at the table. His banner over me is not shame, but love.

What do I do with a gift like that?

I can only say thank you to the King of Kings who takes me anyway, just as I am, but promises never to leave me that way.

"Here's a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I'm proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy."
-- 1 Timothy 1:15
The Message

 

Writing in community with Michelle and Jen today ...

by | October 31, 2011 | forgiveness, wretch | 45 comments

45 Comments

  1. Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

    amen, amen, amen, amen….me, too!

    “And the Host said that’s all He ever wanted.” Loved this, Jennifer. Makes me want to dance!

    Love,
    Patricia

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’ll dance with you Patricia! My heart is just so full of gratitude. It’s humbling. I did some bone-headed things recently, and that junk can’t be repackaged as anything other than what it is: Sin.

      Just grateful that God doesn’t dwell on the messes, but looks fondly on Jesus within me. Amazing.

      Reply
  2. Shaunie Friday

    It’s so important not to lose sight of either truth, isn’t it? Get too far from either one and you’ll be in a world of confusion of one kind or another. This post is beautifully balanced, both convicting and freeing. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Shaunie …

      Oh, I’m so glad you feel that way, about the balance. Thank you for that encouragement.

      A Facebook friend of mine had a really cool status this morning. I’ll share it here: “Life in Grace without parole.”

      That amazes me. This repetitive forgiveness. I’m blown away by it.

      Reply
  3. claire carter

    This is so beautiful and I have been struggling with that walk on the razor’s edge myself. I can’t seem to stay balanced. It’s an enormous and beautiful mystery to me. thanks for laying it out.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      It is a mystery, and I can barely get my arms around it. And I’m OK with that. I’m just continually stunned that I get to sit at the table. Really … truly … amazed. Sometimes, it just hits me afresh — like it has these past few days.

      I don’t want to forget.

      Claire, thank you for sharing in the mystery, and for adding your voice in this place.

      Reply
  4. Shirley

    I think one of the greatest harms we can do as Christians is to try to cover over the fact that we aren’t perfect. First, people figure it out and then what? Second, it gives the wrong impression to the unsaved…that they have to be perfect, an impossible goal to achieve as long as we walk in this earthly flesh! What they need to see is that we walk in grace…not perfection…at least that’s my two cents. 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I agree, Shirley! Well said. Thank you for taking this post one step further and pointing out that truth.

      Reply
  5. Jessica W

    Great, great post!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Jessica. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Chris

    The beautiful thing in all of this, to me, is that when we bring that sin-soaked casserole to the banquet, he seats us at his right hand. Present tense! It isn’t this scenario that says I have to get all of the bad ingredients out and then I he might let me sit at the table…NO! Scripture tells us over and over again that we have been seated with Christ with words like “have been” and “are.” This, friends, is experiencing grace and peace!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes, Chris. Indeed! PRESENT TENSE.

      It boggles the mind. So, then, why do we Christians try to add something more? We do tend to have this potluck approach — “Hey friend, you can come to the banquet, but you’re going to have to bring something with you if you want to walk through the door.”

      And then, come to find out, the ticket through the door is this: our sin.

      {Shakes head. Gets teary-eyed all over again.}

      Reply
  7. Beth Herring

    indeed! goes along with my dying moments post. i join you in the number one public sinner category. Help us, Lord to live a life worthy of our calling in you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Just read your post, Beth. And this is the line that I’ll carry from it:

      ” … that He can take those things that are unlovely and make them beautiful.”

      Thank you for your words.

      Reply
  8. Katie

    Love the honesty in this post. If Paul can admit his own failings, how can anyone claim to be any better? Amazing grace that He makes us more than we deserve or can achieve on our own- despite our efforts or pride in our own paltry achievements! Happy Reformation Day. 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Katie, for sharing. Happy Reformation Day to you, too. … Our pastor wrote out all of Luther’s 95 theses (long-hand) and taped them to the wall of our church. That was quite a visual.

      Reply
  9. Diana Trautwein

    Steaming sin in a covered casserole, eh? Pretty powerful picture, I’d say. Loved this and love this truth – that we are both. Copying that Luther quote, that’s for sure.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      The whole saint-sinner thing astounds me. I’ve been rolling over that Luther quote for a few years now, and every time I return to it, it just makes my knees go wobbly. Thanks for being here, Diana.

      Reply
  10. Margaret Kirk

    Absolutely blown away by your post…so what God has been speaking to my heart these many weeks. I love the picture too of the steaming sin in a covered casserole…thank you for this beautiful post!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Margaret, Too often I dine on that sin. Yuck. I’m thankful that God takes it and dumps it down his holy Garbage Disposal. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Connie@raise your eyes

    My sin could never fit in a casserole dish…even on a good day. The wonder of it all, sinner/saint…boggles my puny brain, it does.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Mine either, Connie. Crockpot? Nah. More like a whole catering truck. Thanks for being here today, celebrating that Thing that God does. “What can wash away my sin ….”

      Reply
  12. Lisa

    Beautifully written and so true.
    Found you thru Soli Deo Gloria

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Lisa! So glad you stopped by. It’s nice to “meet” you through Soli Deo Gloria. Isn’t she a gem? Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Deidra

    I do enjoy a good potluck. I’ll bet the King can take those shabby casseroles we offer up – leftovers and instant pudding – and turn them in to quite a feast!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes … and I hope there are lots of those little mini-Snickers on the table. And soynuts. 🙂

      Thanks, Deidra, for adding your words here tonight. Love ya. (Loved your 31-day series this month. I’m going to miss it.)

      Reply
  14. Jennifer Ferguson

    I remember a time when I would try to be a saint in order to contradict my sin.

    And then, I learned about grace.

    This grace. It’s life-changing, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      A big ol’ Amen to that Jennifer Ferguson! Thanks for stopping by, and for hosting your weekly writing community. You’re a gracious hostess. 🙂

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      ~smooch~

      Right back atchya, Carolyn. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Sandra Heska King

    Jostling you out of the way. The first place spot is mine.

    I hate how my sin hurts others. I want Him to put His banner over them, too.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oooo … Yeah … That smarts. I know that feeling. Praying for that grace that covers over a multitude of sins.

      Reply
  16. r.ellott

    great…great post…love Both wretched and loved….broken and brought back…this says it all…this does make me so deeply grateful…
    Blessing from one redeemed to another…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you for coming by, for celebrating redemption.

      Reply
  17. Patricia

    you wouldn’t know how much I needed this post today… except, that I just told you. Hug.

    Reply
  18. Kathy Robbins

    Reading C.S. Lewis last night, I realized just how stained and wretched that I am….like a worm. And yet, so blessed anyway. You wrote my heart in this post. Must be a God thang baby! Ha!
    Bless you everywhere!
    Kathy

    Reply
  19. Eileen

    Great post! I’ve always loved that verse in Timothy. Paul speaks for all of us.

    Reply
  20. emily wierenga

    thank you for always reminding me of who i am in Christ. i love you dear friend.

    Reply
  21. Sherrey

    So beautifully written! Thanks for sharing your gifts with us.

    Reply
  22. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    Endless gratitude. And just so you know, I’m GLAD you don’t have it all together. It makes you real and helps encourage me when my days are more chaos than together.

    Reply
  23. GracelandJenn

    Oh, yes, yes, YES! Your words resonate within me! Thank you for expressing it all so beautifully.

    Reply
  24. David Rupert

    What I call myself determines how I will act. If I say I’m a sinner, then I’ll fulfill that premise. If I’m a saint, then I ‘ll live up to that title.

    Reply
  25. Michelle DeRusha

    I have a lot of trouble accepting or embracing the saint side of me, too. Lots of guilt (although less as I age!) over the sinner in me, but a saint? Now that title doesn’t feel right at all.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about today, Jennifer (as you always do!).

    Reply
  26. debra

    Love. That’s all.

    Reply
  27. Amy Sullivan

    Jennifer,
    Could be one of my favorite posts from you. Really, really good. I like your first few lines about putting sinner in bold so you wouldn’t forget. Sometimes I think I forget.

    I really like the blogosphere better because you are in it.

    Reply

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