Chief of Sinners

Chief of Sinners

Paul describes himself as the chief of sinners. This also refers to an experience all maturing as disciples must go through. A day will come when all of us will think of ourselves as the chief of sinners.

My stepfather, one of the top ten blessings in my life, and I agree on many things. As a much better amateur theologian than me, he reads much deeper and broader. My still having teenagers at home, traveling a lot for my consulting job, and other life stuff prevent me from taking the time I would like to devote to reading and prayer as he. I envy him that part of retirement.

We are both deeply grateful for God’s grace and would willingly and gladly take the lowest, most menial, and most humiliating task available in heaven. We both have been heard to say, “Lord, just let me sweep the floors.” After all, I imagine heaven’s floors lack the need for much sweeping.

No, I’m the Chief of Sinners, not You

We express our need for Jesus further in our friendly debates of “I’m the chief of sinners.” “No, I am, that’s me.” This comes from a knowledge that even the smallest (by the world’s standards) infractions against God creates an insurmountable eternal gulf. And both of us have (by the world’s standards) committed some whoppers. As the chief of sinners, we need God’s grace daily, more than we need air, food, or water.

Paul weaves this identity as the chief of sinners throughout his writings. Writers of music weave the theme into great hymns like Amazing Grace. When I get to this point, I begin to see my true need for God, and here I begin to learn to walk with him side by side. I wrote Food in God’s Place  to communicate how to get into this Jesus dependent mode.

Hopefully Anna’s fictional dialogue in the book with Christ encourages you to talk to God. I need to listen to God, read his Word, devote myself to prayer, and I need to experience intensifying my prayer with fasting.

And when we bump into each other at a conference, church, or bookstore, we can debate which of us is really the chief of sinners, you or me. I assure you, it’s me.

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