Hospital Beds and Hippy Dancing

As I transitioned out of my time at the Bible Chapel, I received a note from someone. It was intended to be a message of encouragement. Here’s what it said:

“…Don’t forget that God is the great Physician—mankind is sick with sin. They don’t know they need a doctor because they don’t think they are sick. Teach and preach boldly that repentance is required to enter into the relationship with the Lord. Show people they are sinful and need a Savior. Boldly call them out—use the 10 commandments as a mirror to show them they are in need of the One who can wash them clean—and transform them into the likeness of Christ. May God bless you and keep you— Boldly preach repentance and faith.”

This past weekend before taking a group of college students to be counselors at a camp for a week we took some time to go to a place called the Purple Fiddle. The Fiddle is a very cool music venue in Davis, WV. It lies in the middle of nowhere and is a haven for mountain men, hippies, musicians and artists. They are known for good food, great music, and an amazing atmosphere.

As we were there last Friday night I watched a couple of 20-something girls dancing freely as the band played. They were bad dancers but had a great time together. They found a certain amount of freedom in the hospitality of the place they found themselves.

So which is more effective in inviting people to the transformation that Christ brings? Is it more helpful to tell them how "sick they are" or invite them to a dance? Is an understanding of sin about making us feel guilty or helping us know freedom?

I believe the community of Christ-followers should invite people to dance. I do not believe we shy away from the idea of sin, but rather broaden our understanding to see sin as more than just our individual shortcomings (lying, stealing, gossip, lust). Instead, we must grasp sin as the brokenness, shame, and hurt God never intended for the world. Sin is the guilt I carry of my own fallenness, but also the weight of others' sin against me. If I am abused I carry the weight of that sin. It is not my fault but it affects me nonetheless.

My point is simply this--

Freedom is more transforming than guilt.

When Christ speaks to the woman at the well he doesn't simply tell her how sick she is. He acknowledges her condition honestly, but then he says, "Let me give you water so you will never thirst." When the woman is caught in adultery and Jesus causes the accusers to drop their stones he doesn't then pick one up and tell the woman he could stone her. He says, "Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more."

Freedom is more transforming than guilt.

I pray that in the ministry we give birth to at Penn State people are invited to dance rather than lie in a hospital bed. Hopefully the freedom of grace will create a community of hospitality where courage is granted rather than guilt.



July 19, 2010 at 7:18 AM

I'm so, so glad you decided to blog Justin. since I have family from state college I'm looking forward to reading all about the great work Christ will do through your families willingness there! And I really enjoy learning from your ministry through these posts since I can't hear the message in person. Your family and ministry are in my prayers! Thanks Justin!


July 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM

That is good stuff! Amen!

  Christine Waller

July 21, 2010 at 12:27 AM

Amen! Thank you for this post.

  Christine Waller

July 21, 2010 at 12:38 AM

Amen! Thank you for this post, Justin. It filled me with grace. Cheers from South Africa!