I’ve written about the magnificence of 1 John 1:10, which frees us to glorify God’s grace by being open about our sin. But singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson beautifully puts a human story to that theological idea in a post he wrote after going on tour with Steven Curtis Chapman:
I’ve been in Nashville for 15 years now, and, well, you tend to hear less-than-flattering stories about folks from time to time (I’m sure there are a few about me floating around out there), but I have yet to hear one of those about Steven. What that might lead a rascal like me to conclude is that either a) Steven is so squeaky-clean he must be hard to like or b) he’s a complete wreck and he’s hiding it. I didn’t realize until this tour was underway that there’s a third option. Here it is: Steven is a wreck, he’s not hiding it, and because of the mighty presence of Jesus in his life, grace abounds to those around him.
It’s the great, confounding reversal of the Gospel of Jesus. If the word we preach is one of attainable perfection, of law, of justification by works, then when we fail, our testimony fails with it. But if we preach our deep brokenness and Christ’s deeper healing, if we preach our inability to take a single breath but for God’s grace, then our weakness exalts him and we’re functioning as we were meant to since the foundation of the world. Steven isn’t super-human. He’s just human. But what a glorious thing to be! An attempt on our part to be super-human will result only in our in-humanness—like a teacup trying to be a fork: useless. But if the teacup will just be a teacup, it will be filled. Humans were made (as was everything under the sun) for the glory of the Maker. Why should we try to be anything but fully human? Let God fill us up and pour us out; let him do what he will, let us be what we were meant to be. That gives us the freedom to sing about what’s really happening in our hearts without being afraid of sullying the good name of God. If our hearts are contending with the forces of darkness, clinging desperately to the hope of a Savior, then to sing boldly about the battle is no shame to us and all glory to our King.
The proof is in the pudding. Everyone I know in Nashville who knows Steven has said to me something like, “I love Steven. He’s a good man.” But from the first week of the tour I discovered that Steven isn’t a good man. He’s as sinful as the rest of us. He wears his weakness on his sleeve. He’s quick to share his pain and his struggle. That doesn’t make him mopey—he’s quick to share his joy, too. But what’s so wonderfully subversive about the Gospel is that our ability to honestly bear our grief and woundedness just makes room for God’s grace to cast light on all that shadow; it makes room for us to love each other. When we encounter that kind of grace we come away remembering not just the sin but, overwhelmingly, the goodness, and the grace, and we say, “I love that guy. He’s a good man.” What we’re really saying is, “I love that guy. God is so good.”
Many years ago when I saw Steven Curtis Chapman in concert for the first time, I was struck by the fact that when I left, I was primarily thinking about how great God is, not how great SCC is. I loved him not because of his talent, but because he was a window to the glory of God. I wasn’t quite sure how he’d done it, but ever since then, I’ve wanted to be the same. I appreciate Andrew Peterson’s insights.
Please read the rest of his post here.