I have said before that when we worship we must always avoid a ditch on either side of us. Our task is to rely on the Spirit and seek wisdom so that we can navigate through our worship in the middle path. That said, there are two ditches that we, as 21st C. American Reformed evangelicals, need to beware when if comes to how we think about our sin.
One ditch is a glib, self-congratulating carelessness about our sin. We rename our sin as syndromes and disorders. We take our sin lightly by being casual and relevant and authentic when it is really just fluency at escaping the real force of our wickedness. But the other ditch is worm theology. Look deeper and deeper into your very sinful navel, and you will continue to see further and further depths of iniquity and spiral down into deeper depths of unworthiness, but you never really hit bottom.
There is a middle path that finds not glibness but real joy, even while seeing sin for what it is, yet not engaging in navel-gazing. I saw this middle path in a little segment of a prayer from The Valley of Vision this week. A wise Puritan recorded this prayer for us:
While I confess my guilt, help me to feel it deeply, with self-abhorrence and self-despair, yet to remember there is hope in thee, and to see the Lamb that takes away sin.
What a beautiful combination of guilt and joy. Eyes on sin, but gaze on Christ. It is found only in union with Christ and in confidence of His blood and His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.
So may we all approach God in worship without falling into the ditch this week – neither the ditch of self-congratulation nor the ditch of worm theology. May we guilty sinners stay rooted and grounded in Christ, the sinless Savior who takes away all our sin. Come, let us worship and glorify our Lord and our Redeemer, our God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit.