IdentityHi I am Josh, let me tell you a few things about myself:

  • As a kid, I stole a chocolate bar from the kitchen and then lied about it
  • As a teenager, I helped my brother email bomb one of the girls in his class. When he got in trouble for it from our Internet service provider, I let him take the fall for it by himself.
  • To this day, if I want to get up early, I need two alarm clocks. One in my bedroom, and one in the living room which goes off five minutes later and is super loud, to make sure I get out of bed.

That is what I call my anti-resume. We all have things in our lives we aren’t proud of, things we don’t want on our resumes. Personally, I am always encouraged when I read Samuel Johnson’s diaries:

Samuel Johnson, the great eighteenth-century thinker and writer, documented in his diary his efforts over the years to fight sloth by getting up early in the morning to pray. He wrote: 1738: “Oh, Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.” 1757: “Oh, mighty God, enable me to shake off sloth and redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin by diligent application of the days yet remaining.” 1759: “Enable me to shake off idleness and sloth.” 1761: “I have resolved until I have resolved that I am afraid to resolve again.” 1764: “My purpose is from this time to avoid idleness and to rise early.” 1764 (5 months later): He resolves to rise early, “not later than six if I can.” 1765: “I purpose to rise at eight because, though, I shall not rise early it will be much earlier than I now rise for I often lie until two.” 1769: “I purpose and hope to rise early in the morning, by eight, and by degrees, at six.” 1775: “When I look back upon resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after year, been made and broken, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal.” He resolves again to rise at eight. 1781 (3 years before his death): “I will not despair, help me, help me, oh my God. I resolve to rise at eight or sooner to avoid idleness.”[1]Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013), Kindle Location, 2405.

This admission of imperfection comes from the same man who has been described as “the most distinguished man of letters in English history.” [2]Wiki, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Johnson. I love it when people admit they aren’t perfect, because I struggle with perfectionism. This is one of the reasons why I love the Bible so much. It doesn’t try to sweep humanity’s imperfections under the carpet, instead it show us “its heroes and its great ages, warts and all.”[3]William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 2nd ed., The Daily Study Bible., (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1955; reprint, Reprint 2nd), 43.

This is especially true of the Apostle John. Normally when we think of John, we remember him as dear old grandpa John who writes to his “dear children” about the love of God. But if all we had were the Gospels, I doubt anyone would come to this conclusion. John had a fairly long anti-resume. Consider how he acts in the gospels:

  • John is arrogant, ambitious and proud: One day, John, along with his brother James, try to get a career advancement in the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 10:35-41 they go to Jesus and ask him if they could sit at his right and left in eternity. The other disciples were indignant!
  • John is exclusive, and sectarian: Another time, the disciples are arguing amongst themselves about who will be the greatest in God’s Kingdom. Luke 9:46-50 records the story, explaining how Jesus responds to their argument saying that anyone who wants to be great must be the least. John doesn’t get it, and replies: “Master, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” Jesus tell him,“Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”
  • John is impulsive, mean-spirited, and vengeful: In Luke 9:51-54, John show himself to be less than loving when the Samaritan people don’t welcome Jesus. His response is to say to Jesus: “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

John had a fairly large anti-resume. What changed? I think that John’s greatest strength, his passion for the truth, was also his greatest weakness. He desired justice and truth, but didn’t yet understand grace. One preacher says it this way “John had the potential to be hard for the truth, what the Lord had to do was make him loving.”[4]John MacArthur, “John, The Apostle of Love”, available from: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/62-1/john-the-apostle-of-love At some point, John got grace.

“If John were to be asked, ‘what is your primary identity in life?’ He would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, apostle, and evangelist, and author of one of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.’”[5]Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? (New York: Walker & Co., 2002), 68-69, quoting Brennan Manning.

Do you get grace? Take a moment now and think about the things on your own anti-resume. After all, “The Gospel only sounds good to a heart that knows it is bad. For people who think they’re good, grace is frustrating.”[6]Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013), Kindle Location, 390. Even in his brokenness, John was called “the disciple that Jesus loved.” The same is true for us. The gospel is good news because even with our anti-resumes, we are all the disciple that Jesus loved!

“Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believe the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?”[7]Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? (New York: Walker & Co., 2002), 69.

Recommended Books:

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Christian Identity: You Are The Disciple Jesus Loved

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