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Lent Devotion #6 - Total Depravity

The prophet Isaiah had a vision of being transported to the throne room of God. And his first response was to cry out and say, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…” Centuries later, Paul writes to the Church in Rome, in one of the most wicked cities of the world, and says, “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” And then John writes to the Church at large and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”


Centuries later, in a war between Christian factions (Roman Catholic and Protestant), Calvin offers a way of thinking about humanity that echoes these words from Scripture. He called it Total Depravity. Contrary to what some claim, Total Depravity does not mean that we are bad all the time. This term simply suggests that each thought and deed carry with them some form of self-interest. Therefore, no matter how hard we try to be good, we will always fail to be holy as God is holy. We will always fall short of being our best selves. But we are not to worry… for God found a way for us to be good in spite of ourselves. And that is what the Cross and the empty tomb are all about.


Frankly, we know how far short we fall. We have to live daily with our own imperfections. When we look into the mirror, we see deeper into ourselves than others ever can. Lent invites us to lift those imperfections up once again and let them be restored to wholeness by the One who loves us more than anyone else. Though we tend to try to hide our imperfections, confession is good for the soul. When we take the time to stop and clean house by owning up to the mistakes we have made, we make room for love and peace to take root and grow once more in us. We can never be truly selfless but allowing the peace of Christ to flow through us to others can bring us closer to being the disciples our Lord has called us to be. Pass it on.

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