Twisting Truth for Our Own Purposes

Lori 2016I’ve done things I regret.

I have. So, I’m always curious when I meet someone who purports to have no regrets. Especially, when that someone made choices that hurt me.

It happened once in a casual public setting, an innocent conversation in a coffee shop. I ran into a former shepherd, one who, when faced with pressure and attacks on the flock, chose to hold sheep up in front of himself as a barrier from fire. I had been one of those sheep. It took years for me to heal from those wounds.

And here he was, responding to coffee shop banter. The question posed: “Do you have any regrets?” I kept my eyes focused on my book but my heart listened for his answer.

He laughed. “Regrets? Nah, I don’t waste time on regrets. Everything happens for a reason. Sure, I’ve made some bad choices – everyone has – but all those choices made me the person I am today and I like who I am, so what would I possibly change?”

Faces came to mind. Faces of the wounded. I wasn’t the only one who had suffered from his selfish and duplicitous decisions. But, he likes himself now so, it’s all good, right?

As I watched him walk from the shop and up the road, I released the old hurts over to God again. Forgave again. Asked, again, for God’s love to offer this shepherd who had abused his position. Prayed, again, for the casualties. Thanked God for the healing He’d brought about in me and others.

Then, I thought about how casually we say things without considering what we really mean.

Everything does happen for a reason but sometimes that reason is that sin and evil reign in parts of this world and in some of us. Christians and others mistakenly distort the passage “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord” to mean that all things are good.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Translation? “after this, therefore, because of this” A Latin fallacy that because something came before, it caused the thing that came after. Because God works good from all things in the lives of those who love Him does NOT mean all things are good.

If a drunk driver kills someone I love and the Lord uses the testimony from that to bring others to Christ and to save others from driving drunk, it doesn’t retroactively make the drunk driver’s choice a good one.

If a terrorist group attempts to exterminate an entire people and because of it, the gospel spreads in that region and many come to Christ, it does not ordain terrorism as a method of evangelism.

If I lie and gossip (which I have) and people are damaged by my words, torn down, wounded, but through the process of growing in Christ, I write the lesson I learn into a blog post that touches many lives, it doesn’t mean my lies and gossip were “meant to be.” My lies and gossip did happen for a reason. They happened because I chose to sin rather than to access the power of Christ not to sin. God has forgiven my lying and my gossip in the name of Jesus but I do regret the times I’ve gossiped or lied.

God does not bless my sins and bad choices, He redeems them. There’s a difference. And it’s an important one. Jesus died to pay the price for my sins (and my former shepherd’s sins) and to free us from the power of sin. His death, however, freed us FROM sin, not TO sin.

Too many of us still cling to the guilt of past sin and that’s not God’s plan for us at all. We receive forgiveness and move forward in Christ – free. But, I believe we always should remember that our freedom came at a price – a price that was paid by someone else – Jesus.

Regrets don’t cripple me, but I certainly do have them. The knowledge that past sins have had long-ranging consequences in my life and in the lives of others reminds me to access the power of Christ to avoid sin going forward. The fact that Jesus carries the weight of my sin, in many ways, frees me to own up to it in ways I couldn’t bear on my own. I can acknowledge the damage resulting from my poor choices knowing that Jesus has the power to transform and will give me the strength to make amends where I can.

The cross is not a cover up or whitewash of the nature or severity of our crimes. Jesus didn’t pretend my sins didn’t happen or minimize them as “no big deal,” He paid the price for them Himself. The cross is a signpost of the enormity of sin and its shadow falls on each of us. I have regrets, the cross testifies to that, but it also testifies to the truth that my regrets don’t need to own me because Jesus Christ does.

That is freedom without hiding. Freedom without selective memory. Freedom without revisionist history.

When Jesus works all things together for good for those who love Him, the point is God’s amazing power to redeem and to transform. It amazes precisely because the sinful choices made in this world have such far-reaching power.

God’s power to overcome is just that much greater.

Imagine the healing that could happen in the body of Christ if, instead of dodging our mess ups, we said to one another, “I want to tell you I know that my choice to sin in that situation caused you harm. I’ve received forgiveness from Christ but I’d like to know if there’s any way I can make amends to help you heal. And please know I’ve taken these steps to hopefully make better choices in the future.”

What about you? What are your thoughts on regrets and on how all things work together? Have you seen this truth twisted? What’s the remedy?

**Did you know that the Kindle version of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) is only 99 cents right now? Click here to buy it for a friend.

Also, I’d love to have you join me as I speak at the Women’s Event at First Baptist Church of Narragansett this coming Saturday, May 2nd at 9am-10:30am! I’ll be speaking on Jesus and the Beanstalk – how to avoid being ineffective as a follower of Christ.

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    The Conversation

  1. Powerful truth! Like you, I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t change anything, that what’s supposed to happen will happen. A misinterpretation of Scripture, a convenient justification for sin.

    Thank you for the reminder that we choose sin, and in the process we bring hurt, pain, and suffering on ourselves and others.

  2. Carla says:

    We are here, Lori, and we hear you. Bring it!