A special thanks to Blue Shepard for allowing me to publish his weekly e-newsletter here on Vigilant Wolf. The Blue Shepard is a friend and past guest of Ever Vigilant podcast (episodes 43 and 86 ). I personally look forward to his weekly thoughts on Christianity, Manhood, and Brotherhood and I believe you will feel the same.
Greetings in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
I have spent many hours writing, rewriting, and rewriting again the following letter. The Holy Spirit has had me in great travail over this topic. I am ever learning, ever failing, and ever obtaining the grace of Our Father as I claw away at the filth which is around me and on me and in me, and striving with every fiber to mar the barrier at which I end and Christ begins. My life is hid with Christ, but bits of my own identity blemish his holy image. I have spent much time in prayer and meditation, and it is my earnest desire that my suffering over this message to you is not in vain. May it bless you in proportion to the burden for it that I have borne.
Recent events along my quest for the ever progressing Cup of Christ have brutally effaced my own unorthodox biases and vastly resurrected in their place the mind of St. Peter, who, in every practical matter, demonstrated the frivolity of all affairs of life when compared with the ultimate and everlasting goal: the representation of the Kingdom of God to the darkness of this sinful world. We have wasted so much time. There are so many broken people who await a redeemer who will win them back to their Father. We sit as gluttons at his table as he gazes wistfully out the window, saying, "My table is full, but my fields are empty. Who among you will reap my harvest?" How can we sit here while our brothers and sisters are at war? Remember the persecuted. Seek the broken and twist their arms until they convert to the fold of God. God heals broken people so they can heal broken people. He is a Father to the fatherless so they can father the fatherless. Like the woman at the well, we must go back to those whom we have cast off and say, "Your Father has set your place at the table. You must come into his house today." Like Mary Magdelene, we must cease whoring souls unto ourselves and become fishers of men for the Kingdom. Like Saul, we must become Paul, for there is no hunting like the hunting of man. And like Simon, we must possess the zeal necessary to wage raging warfare against the forces of evil which have so many around us bound up in grave clothes.
We mustn't bastardize those around us by seeding the Gospel, and then leaving them like babes to the wolves. We must care for and nurture them. We must find the right groove, and then remain in it. We must rub off on them. There is no other way. Friction is key. We will know we have struck the right cord when they say to us, "I was baptized but you probably can't tell." Or simply, "I got to change my ways." And we will know that the precious seeds which we have born forth, weeping, sweatting, and bleeding, have germinated in their hearts when they say, as one woman said to me recently, "I feel like I woke up for the first time today. Today is the first day in my remembered life that I woke up and didn't feel dead inside."
O Lord of the Harvest, send us laborers.
Required Reading: I Peter 2:11-12; Psalm 32:1-5
"Much unhappiness has come to the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid." - Fyodor Dostoyevski
There is an other-worldly drive which compels men to confess the wrong they have done. Sometimes it is on their death bed, and other times to a trusted friend. Generally when people find out that I am a minister, their first impulse is to confess some long forgotten fault, suddenly renewed in burning shame. Initial responses usually sound like, "You're a preacher? Well... There's something I need to tell you." or, "Oh Lord, I need to confess something" (These are protestants mind you; the Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and some others never respond this way because they have already confessed to their priests). The response is often exaggerated when speaking to particularly irreligious individuals. Guilt, like hunger, is a symptom of a human need. Confession is necessary food for the condemned soul.
But the veracity of hope in human social interaction is enfolded within many layers of pretentious grace and self-righteous polity. No matter how honest we pride ourselves in being, polite people still say, "Oh! I'm fine! And you?" Some commentaries on the doctrine of original sin (or total depravity if you're Reformed) would lead us to the conclusion that we are born liars. It is supposed that the first artifice in human communication occurs the first time we, as infants, screech out a cry, then pause, and wait to see if anyone is coming for us. But this, in essence, is nearly a more brutal honesty. Rather than channel this energy to the proper expression of felt need, we reroute this behavior to teach children that they no longer express their desires. It is like a dog, who having been scolded and beaten every time it growls or bears it's teeth, seems polite, but has unwittingly been trained to show no warning signs of aggression before attacking (this is why I respond to dog bite calls and people claim the pit bull bit them without warning). The needs are still present, but the repression of expression has socialized us into the most adept liars of all human history.
This is further exacerbated through social image and social media. Erroneous virtue signaling is one of the fastest growing fields of deceit beneficial to one's career and social success. We do not wear our own virtues, but like a chameleon we adapt to reflect the virtues of those around us solely for the sake of avoiding detection. We play into the impostor syndrome by becoming the impostor. We signal to the world that we are happy and wealthy. All the while we are dead inside. The conversation we have with ourselves is not the conversation we present to the world. Words destined to remain in darkness never see the light of day.
The ethos of the entirety of Christian conduct in this world is based on the most despised sacrament: confession. This sacrament is most despised because of two fundamental tenets which do not suit the palates of the flesh-driven passions: inward honesty, and self denial. But the radical veracity required for true confession is erosive to self-will itself. We can point our finger at all of humanity, but nothing changes until we finally and unarguably assert, "I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We have done this in our sheer refusal to acknowledge our own treacheries. We say, "It is everyone else whose virtue is found lacking," when that very statement is a sin on our part. It is better to be judged as a repentant sinner than as a proud and pious man.
The message we send to the world with confession is one of temporality: None of this will last. When Christ appears, we will see him as he is; and to see him is to be like him. We shall not receive a new soul, but a new body: for it is the flesh which is subjected to the passion of sin and failure. Therefore we first and foremost admit, address, and discard any affiliation with this world by taking full possession and ownership of the sinful flesh such as it is. Any defense of it is born out of rebellion. Any aversion to the acknowledgement of it is nothing other than corruption and wicked pride. You will win many souls to yourself when you demonstrate to them how infallible you are. They will follow you for a while, and then they will discover what a scoundrel you are. You will be none the more perfected, and on the great day of judgement their blood will drip from your filthy, guilty hands, and you will be speechless. We must win them to Christ through the humiliation of ourselves. We are fools. We are madmen. We are self-destructive, self-abusive, spiritually masochistic. We subject ourselves to the harshest criticisms and scalding lectures of men who are just as incompetent as we are, and consider it good. But it is because we know that the more we shame our own sinful selves, the greater God's grace appears. Let the righteous smite me down, and let the life of Christ be resurrected in my place. The body of sin must be crucified afresh. For above all else I must be saved.
It is not enough, however, to confess with the mouth. We must also believe it in our hearts. I must be convinced of my own utter insufficiency before my confession of it will have any sacramental effect. The miraculous result of confession only occurs when conviction has wrenched away every confidence of self-righteousness. It is not enough to say we have crucified the flesh. Until we have taken the nail in our own hand, and driven it, listening to our own cries and screams, watching our own blood flow, and smelling the stench of our own death while this flesh yet breathes, confession is mere lip-service. Tear your hearts; not your garments. If you are not broken for your sins then break yourself. Like baptism, we must go down before we can come up.
Do you want to win souls for Christ? Do you want to make disciples? Then show them how to confess. Shock them with the grotesque details of your own testimony: for we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb the words of our testimonies. Demonstrate just what it means for your life to be hidden with Christ. Prove to them that there is at least one out there with no guile. Say your prayers in secret, but live your confession before all men that they may witness your Godly conversation and conduct in the constant fear and knowledge that the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good; that every deed will be brought into judgement; that the words whispered to myself in the secret chambers of my own heart are examined upon the marquees of the divine throne room. We must all be accountable to God.
Above all else I must be saved.
Let the righteous smite me.
If you would like to receive The Platform e-newsletter each week, email Blue Shepard at firstname.lastname@example.org