Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Beginning with God 8

Worship.jpgIt all begins with God — what we think about God shapes what we think about ourselves and those around us and our world. It begins with God. What is our “narrative” of God? What are the narratives that hinder our perception and life in God?

James Bryan Smith, in The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love With the God Jesus Knows (The Apprentice Series) , has a chapter called…


“God Transforms.”

The false narrative is this: “I am a sinner.”

Yes, Smith’s argument is that because we tell ourselves that “we are sinners” we both sin and inculcate a tolerance for sin. What then is the Jesus narrative?

Do you define yourself as a sinner or a saint? Do you define yourself “in Christ” or “in Adam”? Which is the true narrative? Why is the false narrative so alluring?

That Jesus is risen from the grave and God’s grace is here to transform us into saints. The narrative of Jesus is “I am a saint. Sin has been defeated. I have been reconciled. I am in Christ.” So Romans 6:6: flesh and the body of death have been destroyed.


Smith: “Christians are not merely forgiven sinners but a new species: persons indwelt by Jesus, possessing the same eternal life that he has” (154). Analogy of butterfly: why would a butterfly want to live like a worm?

How can we live as a saint? Abide in Christ (John 15:4-5). Our brokenness — cracked Eikon — does not define us; what defines us now is Christ.

What can we do to help us live our “sainthood” instead of our “sinner-hood”? 

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posted July 24, 2009 at 7:47 am

I used to ski a lot. For a long time my skiing didn’t improve much and one of the reasons was because I used to look at what my feet were doing and not at the terrain ahead. Once I stopped looking at my feet my skiing improved dramatically.
Likewise, in my Christian faith, if my focus is on what’s going wrong – both in my life and what others are doing wrong – and my eyes aren’t on Jesus and his kingdom then I quickly start heading in the wrong direction (and getting discouraged to boot).
2 Corinthians 4:18:
“So we don?t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Hebrews 12:1b-2a:
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

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posted July 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

I am living in the Kingdom… and yet, I sometimes make sinful decisions and act sinfully.
I am living in the World… and yet, God’s Spirit lives within me and gives my life integrity.
Honestly, I am a saint and a sinner. I am running the race, but I do sometimes stumble. God give me strength and peace!

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posted July 24, 2009 at 9:51 am

it really is a trip once you think of yourself as risen with Christ, alive with Christ, indwelt with the Spirit.

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posted July 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

Narrative is the space in-between. In the grand scope of our experience it’s an intermediate thing, but one we can control and, ultimately, claim ownership over. Therein lies the rub. We can only give away that over which we exercise control, yet experience freedom in the Spirit only when we surrender all the control God has so freely given us.
It is when we yield our “moments in-between” that we truly gain control, an odd juxtaposition in a material world which, for the secular mind, materials define. We are free to walk at our own pace only when we accept the path God desires for us. Unlike the butterfly, who can never return to the cocoon, we can always head back, pull the flap back over our wings and lose out on the rich experience of flight.
Only through Grace can we climb back out again and only in Christ does Grace abound.

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John W Frye

posted July 24, 2009 at 11:18 am

“Sinnerhood” is so inviting because it offers a reasonable excuse to deliberately sin. I am a sinner, therefore, I sin. Add, “And this makes me humble, too, to acknowledge that I am a sinner” and you’ve got the rationale for a life of unadulterated sinning.
We forget that John the Apostle wrote his first epistle with this goal: “I write to you so that you may not sin.” Our response: “You’ve got to be kidding me!” What? Shall we keep on sinning that grace may abound?!” The USAmerican Christian answer: “You betcha!”

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posted July 24, 2009 at 11:35 am

Being a saint, having access to the Spirit of God, makes possible the things we all agree are good: forgiveness, gratitude, love, joy, peace, etc. etc. That’s great. But I struggle SO deeply with failing SO deeply at these things. When injured, I struggle with bitterness. I have other struggles. Things I pray about, talk about, think about, yet I still fail. There are some paradoxes involved with the whole sainthood thing and sometimes the collision of theory to daily practice can just about make me crazy.

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Georges Boujakly

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Our staring point in daily living is our existence in Christ, with Christ (in the sense of co-death, co-resurrection, co-suffering, con-formity), and for Christ. These realities define us, not just Paul. They are paradigmatic to Christian spirituality, our lived experience of what is believed among us (Cruciformity, chapter two, by Michael J. Groman). Interferences to living this reality will happen. They do not change the identity.
When I am living this identity out, the sinhood narrative seems far from me. Sainthood, or cruciformity, seems normative. Christ, have mercy.

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posted July 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

I think seeing myself as simply a sinner has been a big reason for most of the willful sin in my life. I just grew up thinking that I was a sinner and I knew I was supposed to try and be good, sort of but I knew I wouldnt ever be “good” because I am a sinner saved by grace through faith… So why try to be good? Sorry if thats confusing, but its the mentality I grew up with in church.

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posted July 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I realize I will fail at loving others and hurt them. I realize that others will fail at love and hurt me. Forgiveness and reconciliation are love’s life blood. I also realize that I will fail less as I follow Jesus and grow in maturity. The only safe way I have to know whether I am still facing and following Jesus is to examine myself honestly, and ask those I am traveling with to examine me too: Am I loving more?

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Randy G

posted July 24, 2009 at 10:07 pm

This is where I find Jesus so challenging. In Mark 2: 13-16, Jesus creates a narrative where there are the “sick” sinners he has come to serve and the “healthy” others who he says he is not here to serve. We like to think of ourselves as “sinners,” but incidental sinners, surely not notorious sinners like the tax collector. But Jesus creates a narrative where that is not one of the choices. So we are left having to decide whether we are sinners or those he did not come for.
Randy G.

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posted July 27, 2009 at 5:17 am

An insight from my wife is that “I Am” is God’s name and character as revealed to Moses (Exodus 3:14). So every time we tell ourselves a narrative of what we are like, we have God’s name embedded in the statement. A truthful narrative for those who are “in Christ” will be consistent with the character of God.

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