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Robin Hood’s Merry Men and Christian Self-Assessment

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One of my favorite tales is Robin Hood, and I don’t mean the teenage soap opera version.  I mean the classic Robin Hood, and not the love story part either with Kevin Costner, even though the Bryan Adams song is great.  And my favorite parts are anything about Sherwood Forest, and my favorite characters are the Merry Men, the band of outlaws who team up under Robin Hood’s leadership.  They are a motley crew, all joined together for the purpose of fighting widespread injustice.  They are each unique–from Little John to Friar Tuck.  Each has a quirky personality and special talent.  Sometimes they clash, but they get things done.  This is the beauty of the story:  That this group of outcasts could join together and be unified for a noble, world-changing purpose.

When photographers take a self-portrait, the goal is to capture something of their essence and share it with viewers, while leaving much of it up to their interpretation.  Though Christians cannot ultimately control what other people think of them, we can control the honesty with which we portray ourselves.  Business suits, bright dresses, immaculate buildings, well-behaved children (who eat all their vegetables) sporting bowl cuts, parented by couples who would never be caught with anything on their faces but a cheese grin.

There isn’t anything wrong with these things in themselves until we use them to misrepresent what the Christian life is like.  We avoid exposing vulnerability and weakness, failure, sin, and inconsistency.  Despite our lack of honesty about ourselves, the Bible is brutally, and graciously, honest.  In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul writes:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)

In the immediate context, Paul is reasoning with Corinthian Christians to not file lawsuits against one another.  In a direct application of Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18, Paul reminds them of their former captivity to sin.  Essentially, (certainly with particular individuals in mind) he is saying, “Everything I’m talking about would make more sense if you would be honest about the destructive lifestyle that God rescued you from.”  Would this ragtag group of outcast sinners be welcomed into your church?  Washed, sanctified, justified gays, lesbians, swingers, gamblers, and drunks? Do we flinch at this, forgetting Jesus’ words about tax collectors and prostitutes entering the kingdom of heaven in front of people puffed up with self-righteousness (Matt 21:31)?  We are free to be honest about our former enslavement and present struggles because we have peace with God, who already knows everything about us, yet still chose to send Christ to die for us.

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Written by keywoodblog

February 21, 2012 at 3:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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