It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was driving down the road. I had robbed my kids of the wonder, beauty and mystery of the gospel. I had not only allowed religion to rob me, but it had robbed them.
My motive was right. I didn’t want to expose them to my checkered passed. I wanted to protect them. I didn’t want them doing the things I did. I thought the best way to keep them safe was to keep silent and live a good Christian life in front of them.
I was wrong.
At the time of this revelation my son was deployed to Afghanistan. He would have to wait. My daughter was twenty years old and home from college. I would start with her.
It was a fall afternoon. I sat in my favorite leather chair. She sat across from me. I started with, “I owe you an apology.” She replied, “For what?” I pressed on, “I haven’t been honest with you. I need to tell you about my past.”
I had her attention.
I spilled my guts.
I told her about my rebellious years. I appropriately told her about the years of drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. I came of age in the seventies. It was a wild ride. I was saved out of sin, not from sin.
She took it all in. After a long silence she spoke up. “Dave (my son) and I talked about how we could never live up to you and your standards. To be honest Dad, we’ve sort of given up.”
In my attempt to protect my kids I had put them at the greatest kind of risk. Unknowingly I had hidden the very light I so wanted them to see and embrace. Without even knowing it I had displayed a kind of self-righteousness. A self-righteousness that they had decided they couldn’t achieve. I was good at it.
As I told her my whole story it put the gospel in context for the both of us. I was an ordinary man. God did for me what I could not do for myself. It also did something else. It let me off the hook. I no longer had to live up to a self-imposed standard. I was free to be myself and to become fully who God wanted me to be; and for me more important so was my daughter.
The good news is we can come out. We no longer have to hide behind religion.. We no longer have to make excuses for our sins or seek to cover them up. Our sins have been dealt with. We are okay. No, we are better then okay. We are complete!
God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has redeemed us, He is renewing us, and ultimately He will restore all things. He is rewriting our story. It is a story to be shared.
Religion is that thief. The gospel is that life. And the having it to the full is our life in the gospel. The truth is we can never live up, but nor do we have to. The gospel is all we need.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10, NIV).
Application: Don’t hide behind religion…share your gospel story!
David Putman is founder of PTG and a Lead Navigator for Auxano.