God Is Real to People Whose Sin Is Real

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What is the difference between what David Eckman calls "theoretical" sinners and "real" sinners?

"Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But you, O LORD—how long? Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of your loving kindness" (Psalm 6:2-4).

The words of Psalm 6 fit quite well for those Christians who desperately need help, but not those stifled Christians who sit in church and appear quite bored with what they believe. In observing that boredom for years, I have come up with my own terminology. In church life, two classes of sinners exist: the theoretical ones—churches are full of them as Judea was of Pharisees—and the real ones.

The real ones have real needs. They know they are weak and confused. Christianity does not feel like a theory to them, because they are driven by a sense of deficit that becomes urgent and desperate from time to time. And those times are often. Their Savior is real and non-theoretical because He rescued them from real messes.

The theoretical sinners have a theoretical Savior. That Savior is like a Band-Aid on a scratch, not a compress on a life-threatening wound involving an artery. Their God is running a massage parlor, not an urgent care clinic with a very large waiting room.

God as a Father is preoccupied with those who have really failed, and also with those who are trying to ignore that sense of desperation at the edge of their minds. Regularly, God tries to get the theoretical sinners to embrace reality.

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