By Christopher Raley and
Periodically I enjoy picking up a memoir or biography of a musician whose music has influenced me. I’m always interested to learn how he got started and what it was like for him as he struggled to “make it.”
But I have a frustration common to many of these books and that is when the musician comes to analyze his own faults and the seeds of his failures. Anything like repentance is usually too much to ask for, and I accept that. However, from artists whose music has touched some emotional center of my experience, or whose poetry has caused me to see things with more perspective, I would hope to see that lens turned on himself. I am often disappointed.
What is it that prevents someone from seeing who he really is? Is it arrogance? That is always possible. Is it shame? Probably that’s more likely than we want to admit, even in the famous. While there are many possible faults that occlude introspection (and we are always quick to pick one for people we think we know), true, uninhibited self-inspection needs a tool for it to happen: Scripture.
Introspection can be painful. We are blind to the worst of who we are, reluctant to admit the worst of what we do see, and terrified of being exposed by someone else. The Word of God however, is a unique tool. It cuts both ways, so that the souls of both those who yield and those who resist are exposed by their very response to it. Jesus put it this way:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 3.17-20
To our dark and ruined world where mankind is busy destroying and being destroyed by sin, God’s living word comes as a light. Some of us though squinting at the pain of its brightness, respond to the light with gratitude. We are sick to death of the destruction sin has waged in our lives and we welcome the constructive force of God’s Word.
The rest of us, though not necessarily happy, though frustrated by the limits our blindness places on our introspection, are content to remain in darkness. And in the act of hiding from the light God’s word, we are exposed.