Matt is a young man who is trying to leave behind a long habit of viewing pornography, of returning to sin, and occasionally having sex with strangers. He’s a recent college graduate working a job he doesn’t love while he pursues his true passion: Music. Matt would love to be a Christian musician or a worship leader.
Last month was one of the best and worst Matt’s had in a long time. At the beginning of the month, Matt was invited to lead worship at a weekend retreat coming up this summer. Over the two weeks, he spent time thinking and praying about the worship set, he enacted a daily schedule for both personal worship and practice, and most especially, he has been sensing God’s leading and delight in the midst of it all.
But also last month, Matt spent nearly twenty hours viewing pornography.
What’s going on with Matt? You might be surprised to learn that, hidden within Matt’s contradictory month, there’s a gem that can help set him free.
In his book On Hope, Josef Pieper discusses the reality that humans, and those in Christ most especially, are created for greatness. Far from being “just forgiven,” Jesus’s followers are reborn, their lives vivified to become glorious as those who image God on the earth and walk intimately with Him. But, Pieper explains, even while we long for this greatness, we also shrink from it and slip into a kind of sorrow.
“This sorrow is a lack of magnanimity; it lacks courage for the great things that are proper to the nature of the Christian. It is a kind of anxious vertigo that befalls the human individual when he becomes aware of the height to which God has raised him…He would prefer to be less great in order thus to avoid the obligation of greatness. [This] is a perverted humility…”
At the heart of Matt’s recurring sexual sin is a fear of what God has designed him to be. In other words, Matt is afraid of who he really is, and so afraid of his own desires and passions. So last month when those passions got stirred up, when Matt began walking the path leading up toward the heights for which he’s been raised, he was struck with the “anxious vertigo.” Rather than pressing on in hope, Matt steered himself into an old familiar ditch. He deeply desires the mantel of worship God is laying on his shoulders, and he also fears he is not truly a man who can bear its weight.
Where in your life are you returning to sin? Could this be your unconscious attempt to steer away from the desire you have to truly become the man or woman God has created you to be?
Walk the road of desire long enough and you will face disappointment in this life. Walk the road of hope and birds of despair will circle overhead. Don the clothes God has custom made for you, and taunting whispers will say you look ridiculous.
What if you’re returning to sin because every time you do it gives you more reason to live as though God is wrong about you? This would mean your sin habit isn’t so much about an inability to resist momentary pleasure, but about self-sabotage.
My friends, hear the words Jesus speaks to you: “Do not be afraid. Follow Me, and I will make you…” (cf. Mt. 4:19, Lk. 5:10). What will He make you? What’s something God sees in you or says about you that would be medicine to your soul to believe?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
With great hope,