Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spiritual Guinea Pig runs a series entitled Human Guinea Pig: Humiliating Myself for Fun and Profit. The writer, Emily Yoffe, has been a mime for a day, a drag king, even a golfer. Once she was a “standardized patient” for med students, the first patient 23 different medical students ever examined.

Sometimes I feel like the spiritual guinea pig. I’m currently working through a study with my wife and two other couples; among other things, we are often called upon to examine our “respectable sins” (as Jerry Bridges calls them). Attitudes of self-righteousness, efforts at control, approval gathering, and so forth. For some reason, I’m usually the one in the room on the operating table—the “standardized patient”—explaining how my lack of faith played itself out this week.

For example, last night I explained how I experienced the sinfulness of sin in Walmart. It had nothing to do with the people there—who apparently conspired to take up my time, get in my space, and hinder my progress. No, the real sinfulness was my complete lack of love, based ultimately on a lack of faith. Although as I explained to the group last night, I really did have to get some things.

Maybe I’m not always the one describing my bouts with selfishness and lovelessness. Maybe it just feels that I’m always the one, because our pride desires that we never be the one.

One thing I’ve been learning through my assignments as a spiritual guinea pig is this: we will hinder our own progress unless we have open relationships with others, and in particular the confession of our sins. As uncomfortable as it is to be honest about who we are when we are exposed by God’s word, it is far worse—and fruitless, in the Galatians 5 sense—to hide from others. Somehow, and I don’t have it all figured out yet, our relationship with God suffers as our relationships with others suffer—and vice versa.

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is the guinea pig’s motto.

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