Church Life

On Imposture

Strike a pose and call it repentance. The repentant pose can be dry. The dry, Christian pose of repentance reads like a pamphlet or brochure, much like some other Christians issue daily press releases on how ‘saved’ they are. The repentant pose can also be wet. The wet, Christian pose of repentance is purely psychological, as a neurotic, mental affect in the mind. The wet Christian must perpetually advertise his anxiety and distress. However, true repentance is not a posture but a position. The truly repentant position is characterised by nothing short of maximum, spiritual grief, 100% pain of heart. Anything less is just an illusion or dream. After a struggler finds himself located in 100% spiritual grief and pain of heart, then something strange happens: he is no longer affected by despair. Unlike breezy, Christian poseurs, a truly repentant man is not menaced or consumed by secret despair. Rather, he himself has ‘eaten’ or consumed his own despair. He is beyond despair. At this point, full lamentation can take hold. This is not pretty. It’s an appalling, horrifying sight. We would recoil, aghast in fear and distaste, should we encounter a saint in the throes of his repentance. For this reason, the saints avoid our company, or play the fool with us, because they do not want to impose the horror of their condition upon us. Did you taste this horror? Do you remember the turning-point in your life, when the Holy Spirit whispered salvation into your ear? A memory of a grace-filled moment is also a present illusion. That same grace-filled moment of our repentant conversion can and should be a present reality once again. It should not be written into the memory-hole of our publicized, psycho-social history. It should be vivified in secret by our hidden grief. These things are veiled and invisible. Repentance is not a dream, and a saint is never an imposter.