Do you ever find yourself caught by surprise yet again by, “you’re different?” It happens to me with enough regularity that I should no longer be surprised. But there it is. Fundamentally, I think people are generally the same. Fallen. Broken. Striving. Dodging. Perhaps what is different is our expectations of one another and our ways of coping with our brokenness.
As I ponder on a Sunday afternoon – a great time for pondering, yes? – I am perplexed by the world’s criticism of Christians, individually and corporately. Surely they can’t be surprised that we’re not perfect. I’m certainly not surprised. It is precisely my imperfection that drives me to the foot of the cross. I am so very in need of forgiveness on a daily basis. That’s not some toss off, “oh, aren’t we are all sinners” comment. It’s just so true. I hope that I am becoming better acquainted with the truth that I cannot do this on my own, but even that flirts with pride. So when yet another Christian is castigated in public forum for their humanness – most regrettably by other Christians – I am…well, what’s another word for perplexed?
But I try to analyze this. Maybe it’s not so much that the world is shocked by our sinfulness. Oh sure, some think we are separate beings and are startled by our feet of clay. I think it is far more often the case, though, that they knew all along and can’t forgive us for pretending to be otherwise. Do we feel if we own our weakness that we invalidate the saving power of Christ? Because that is simply not true. In pretending, we only fool ourselves. And the enemy of our souls takes a vicious delight in pulling back the curtain. Do you ever wonder why God allows him to do so? I think it is because 1) He will not share the glory and 2) it is His mercy toward us. That knows we will never fulfill our promise in our falseness, so He risks our embarrassment for our greater growth. And honestly, doesn’t He give us opportunity to turn from our sin so many times before that happens?
I will say that one thing I have never understood is the rush to cruelty I have witnessed and been victim to so many times in my life in all kinds of places. Having received such cruelty, how could I ever give myself permission to do that to another? I don’t know the backstory such individuals carry. Maybe I am blind to my own cruelty – God help me. All I know to do is ask Him to reveal to me – as painful as it may be – the desperate wickedness of my heart. To extend to me forgiveness, grace, and redemption. And to give me the courage to expose my my weakness to the world. Never taking credit for the work He has done. So the bridge is built for others to experience His redemption.