Ever since I began my daily reading of the Word (I've actually never read the book End to End - count me in your typical born-into Christianity group of folks that give up halfway into Leviticus), I've realized the entire Bible is a reflection of human failure and divine perfection. It first came as a surprise to me, but through further reflection I've come to the conclusion that is essentially the surface level "message" of our belief system. Note that this in no way supposed to serve as a criticism of Christianity (or God for that matter), just an observation I had from reading the global bestseller for 5 months now.
Outside of the exciting stories that even non-Christians know - ranging from Joseph's dreams to David's triumph over Goliath - lives the not-so-exciting listings of repetitive human failures in the books of Kings and Chronicles. These books list out failure after failure (with a few rare occurrences of "success stories" of various leaders during this time of His story (pun intended!). It prompts readers to do a double take to make sure they're not reading the same chapter over and over again as many of the passages are literal copies of the previous segments with the names switched out. You can't help but think: if this was representative of the leaders of this time, how many more failures did the everyday man own?
In utmost arrogance, it's hard to resist the thought that we'd do better if we were in their shoes. The Kings of this era were living in times where God felt more real (at least in reflection of their recorded history), with plenty of evidence in the Bible showing that God responded directly to their sins as well as their forefathers. They weren't reacting to some 2,000+ year old book or spiritual guidance provided by local pastors, but lived through seeing God dictate history before their eyes. Some of the most frustrating points are when the narrative shifts, from one "father king" living in the holy ways of God and reaping the benefits of living such a life and then having the very next king (who clearly witnessed his own earthly father living righteously!) diverge into evildoing. What's even more frustrating are those that repeat the same failures generation after generation, with first-hand experience in what it's like to disobey God. How could they do this?
If you're someone who has gone down a similar thought path before or you happen to be someone more mature in your faith, at this point you probably know where I'm going with this. What I just described is us everyday. God has clearly worked in our lives, changed our paths (career or personal) and have shown clear signs of answering our prayer requests and longtime convictions. We know what it's like to disobey God and the consequences that fall with a sin-filled lifestyle. We also know from anecdotes around us, perhaps directly from our parents and family members of the benefits that come with walking right with Him. However, we continue to fall, continue to sin and worst of all, continue to excuse such behavior without full repentance.
This is where I'm stuck - and perhaps my biggest confusion with faith recently. We are by nature sinners - there's no doubt in my mind of this fact. Through faith I've been saved and Jesus has definitely died and rose again for our sins. But if we (and by we I mean me) truly believe all these things to be true and we've become a "new creation" through this process, shouldn't our actions reflect what we have subscribed to? Does it make sense that we continue to behave like those mentioned in Kings and Chronicles, having witnessed God's discipline and guidance and having felt his glory before?
I say this as I've experienced a 2 Michelin star meal before but still look forward to having 7/11 pizza on a drunk Friday night. Bad analogy but you get the point - let me know in the comments if I can pray for you and pray for me too!