The Deepest Truth About You

by Michael J Klassen

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Listening to the officer read me my Miranda Rights, my world began to spin. I was 16 years old and 750 miles from my home in Denver, Colorado.

“Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?” the man asked me. His question jolted me back to this surreality.

“Yeah,” I muttered as I looked dejectedly at the ground.

That summer, my older sister and I worked for the company my dad owned. Most of our time was spent living in a motel in rural North Dakota. As our project came to a conclusion, my sister and I moved back home with much fanfare. Sipping from the cup of adulthood was exhilarating and satisfying. The pay was good, and Lori and I had gotten involved in a small church.

Never had I felt closer to God.

But before the summer ended, my dad needed me to venture out on one more business trip. This time, I accompanied another employee in his mid-20s.

We wrapped up our assignment early and decided to spend the evening at the Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City. Unfortunately, we arrived 15 minutes too late. The amusement park was still open but they were no longer selling tickets. Despite our pleading, the park refused to sell us two more tickets.

That’s when my colleague hatched a plan to sneak into the park. Tom successfully transgressed the gates, but when I tried, a security guard caught me. That’s when the officer read me my rights.

Oh, and did I mention the t-shirt I was wearing?

Heaven of Hell, Turn or Burn!

The front boasted a picture of Yosemite Sam (from the Bugs Bunny movies) beside the words: HEAVEN OR HELL, TURN OR BURN. With my hands handcuffed behind my back, the ever-growing crowd of onlookers witnessed a new low in hypocrisy.

Long story short, I was never so humiliated and never so ashamed to be considered a follower of Christ. After agreeing to avoid the amusement park for the next 30 days, the security officers surprisingly released me…into the custody of my coworker who had enjoyed the amusement park at my expense.

Driving away, I promised myself that I wouldn’t tell my parents what happened for the next 10 years—and I didn’t. This defining experience devastated my walk with God.

Last week, I described the second deepest truth about you and me. Despite our best efforts and intentions, we’re all messed up. All of us are trapped in bodies and souls that cannot help but sin. Theologians call this “total depravity.”

Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily the deepest truth about us. In other words, our sins need not define us. If you’ve given the controls of your life to Jesus, then a deeper truth remains.

The apostle Paul wrote,

“To [the saints] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ” (Colossians 1:27 italics added).

What is the mystery that Paul is extolling? Christ lives in you! The deepest part of you isn’t you, it isn’t your sin, it’s Jesus. Your value doesn’t come from your gifts, abilities, not even your sin. Your value comes from being created by God and having Christ live in you.

Elsewhere, Paul explains:

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. ” (Romans 8:10–11).

This is good news! Not only are you NOT defined by your sin, but you aren’t limited by it, either. That’s why we can say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We always have hope for overcoming our addictions, ailments, and emotional distresses—always—if Christ lives in us.

Thirty years after my transgression, I’m still learning what it means to allow Jesus to define me. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life discovering what it means.

But for today, I have hope.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The Deepest Truth About You

  1. Ginny McCready

    You said “This defining experience devastated my walk with God.” Pretty sure that isn’t true. I have no doubt that you turned away from Him at that time, but the story wasn’t over. If that had been true, you would not be a Minister. You certainly would not be sharing daily opportunities for us to deepen our faith and grow closer to God. My experience shows that the times I doubted him led to times of greater faith and a closer walk.

  2. Fortunately, God can redeem any mistake we make. But, not every mistake we make or sin we commit makes us better. From what I know now, if I could rewind my life, I wouldn’t have made that particular choice because it took me three years to recover.

    Thanks for your comments, Ginny!

  3. Mike

    This just proves what I have always said. The difference between a delinquent and the rest of us is the delinquent got caught!

  4. Can’t argue with you there, Mike.

  5. Georgie-ann

    Having been raised by well-intentioned — but secular — parents, my experience as a young adult in the 60s was one of being (having become) personally inwardly an arid desert carrying around much pain, which had accrued through enduring life’s ordinary circumstances, as well as a rather hefty tragedy or two. With no-God to lean on or cling to or be healed and comforted by, I was walking in a kind of “naked faith” and desperate survival mode which seemed to promise “no end in sight.” I was a willing candidate to receive “all that God had to offer” in the Charismatic Renewal, which for me was part of the Catholic Church at that time.
    Eventually, Word of Faith teachings and zeal reached our town in the 80s, very much as described in your book “Strange Fire Holy Fire.” And our trajectory with all that pretty much compares to what you’ve described. Obviously, now I’m much older and wiser by default, having sorted through the complications that ensued by mixing a sincere pursuit of the divine with all the incoming messages and human inclinations that both enhanced AND distorted this growth process. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn’t all pretty! I am now solidly participating in the Communion of the Catholic Church, and very happily so. We really begin with the assumption that our flesh is weak, and that in this condition we are (broken) vessels to receive the Lord’s Grace (His Presence in us) with each Communion, something that will both accrue and grow within us, aiding the transformation process that comes with abiding in Him. The way we describe this may have some differing terminologies, but I think it is much along the same lines that you presented in your book. Acknowledging the Lord as the one who is the essence of perfection, and myself as the one in need of continual maintenance, sustenance and repair, creates a surrendered ongoing dynamic whereby my flaws (and weaknesses, even more apparent with the aging process!) are part of the not-shocking background noise of being a human, just like everybody else! Our fallible humanness is why God had to come and be our Savior. We cannot rescue ourselves. But willingly cooperating with God, and being open to some of the things you mentioned in your book — a process of “deep calling unto deep” — we find that God will most certainly help us mend our little boats and keep us afloat!

    • Georgie-Ann, thanks for your well-written and incisive response. And thanks for subscribing to the blog!
      I can tell that we both share similar bumps and bruises from our experience in the charismatic movement. Yet, if our hearts are open, those bumps and bruises in the end play a significant role in seasoning us. It seems like that describes you.
      At various times through my writing and pastoring, I have come into contact with people in the Catholic Charismatic renewal. I don’t know if you recognize the name Killian McDonnell, but I interviewed him for an article I once wrote. All I can say is “Wow!” Great man. Interestingly enough, I found few if any remnants of prosperity theology there. A few years ago, I also did some things with a nearby Catholic church that has charismatic leanings. I walked away wishing they would open their doors to married priests, which would inspire me to take a closer look.
      Georgie-ann, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Georgie-ann

    Dear Michael, Thank you for your sympathetic reply. I wasn’t sure how “welcome” Catholics would be, even though you’ve quoted and recommended some of their writers. The Catholic Church as an organism moves and changes so slowly as to be almost imperceptible to the naked eye (apparently). One interesting development recently has been special arrangements for the admission of married Anglican priests — (who desire to convert and serve) — to the Catholic Communion, seen as a waiver due to pre-existing conditions and their religious similarities. Also, some of the Eastern Orthodox branches do allow for married priests and historically always have. Could this mean that further changes along these lines might be possible in the future? I sure wouldn’t bet the farm on it or hold my breath, but there really is a frightening shortage of priests developing. Stay in contact. Stay tuned! Stay lovingly disposed toward the Catholics, as there is a lot to like and learn (both ways)! And who knows what the future may hold?

    Just a word about my personal take on the prevalence of what nowadays appear to be the many “idiosyncrasies” of the Catholic Church: many of them can serve to remind us of our very long Christian history time-wise, as opposed to these new-fangled, spontaneous modern mutations that have sprung up on the recent scene. I have also found it very interesting, that in immersing myself in the totality of what was offered to me as being a part of the whole Catholic scene — (which is HUGE, btw) — that I didn’t seem to miss or resent this or that particular limitation, definition or restriction, as there was so much else going on. In fact, there was almost a comforting effect and sense of predictable structure, form and roles, that allowed one, as a small individual, to relax, recede and ponder some of the more interior and personal dimensions of the faith. In other words, for anything that felt as if it were being sacrificed, or given up (perish the thought!), there seemed to be other things — perhaps even intangible things — that more than compensated for the apparent lack. Just speaking of my own subjective experience here.

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