My evangelical heritage taught me “Amazing Grace,” but I hung on to the “wretch like me” part way too long. I think the institution of evangelicalism has a timing problem. Too much time is spent on our ugly instead of our beauty.
We need to go back to the 26th verse of the Bible (which tops out at over 31,000 verses). In other words, first things first. It says that all people are made in God’s image. We (people) falter, but we can recover our true nature. The bite of an apple (the initial faltering in Genesis) took two seconds…but return can take about two seconds as well.
Theologian Paul Knitter said it this way. “The underlying reason why people keep causing themselves and others so much suffering . . . is because we are ignorant about who and what we really are. But—and here is the really good news—if ignorance is our fundamental problem, we are dealing with a fixable problem.”
One of the best things about Christianity, in my opinion, is that the onus isn’t on us to try harder to get rid of our ugly. God’s the forgiver and restorer. 1 John 1:9 says this. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus forgave the thief on the cross next to him. He even forgave his own murderers. He wasn’t stuck on their ugly. I guess he could see what they couldn’t.
Their true nature. The image of God himself.