“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” (Mahatma Gandhi). I’ve seen this quote from time to time, maybe you’ve seen it too. If I’m being honest, it annoyed me at first. My (sinful) knee-jerk reaction was defensiveness: Really? I mean, we’re just humans. Of course we’re not like Christ all the time. The problem with that defense is that we, as Christians, are called to be like Christ (1 John 2:6, 1 Peter 2:21, Ephesians 5:1-2, John 13:13-17). But lately I’ve been thinking that many of us, as Christians, may not be acting very Christ-like. Maybe we’ve lost our way. Maybe Gandhi has a point. Maybe others can see what we can’t. Maybe we’re so busy following our “rules” about what to do and what not to do (wear this, read that, don’t say that, don’t drink that), too busy…
I was sitting in my car at an intersection, the turn signal set for left, towards home. It was dark and there were no other cars around.
I was crying. Not just a few tears here and there, but really crying.
I was so incredibly lost and broken.
How did I get to this place? So lost in my own sin.
I wanted to change, but I believed it was too late for me. I felt like my downward spiral was out of my control.
Picture this scenario in your mind (it likely won’t take too much effort, since we’ve all been this woman at some point or another):
The day starts out with you already running late.. and by the end of it, you still haven’t caught up.
You really meant to vacuum the floors and get the bathrooms cleaned today (again) but just didn’t quite get to it. And that errand you promised your husband you’d run will have to wait until tomorrow. The laundry is still piled up, as are the dishes.
But, all in all, you feel like you did the best you could today. You tried your hardest and did what you could. You pray that you’ll do better tomorrow but accept that you’re only human and there’s only so much you can do.
Now, your husband could respond to your efforts in one of two ways:
Disappointment is a part of life. We all have times when others don’t live up to our expectations or let us down in some way. Often, it seems that the people who disappoint us the most are those closest to us because we tend to hold them to higher standards than everyone else. After all, no one is supposed to love us more than those in our “inner circle.”
When someone close to us hurts us in some way it can be tempting to hold a grudge against that person. Maybe we feel like they don’t deserve our grace or that, if we forgive them this time, they’ll only do it again. Whatever the reason, we hold onto the grudge, we nurture it. Even when the hurt begins to fade, we renew it in our hearts because we just can’t seem to let it go.
Forgiveness has become a somewhat touchy subject in our society.
As we become more and more individualistic- focusing on ourselves rather than others, looking out for own interests, protecting our hearts at all costs- we become less likely to forgive those who hurt us.
It has become the celebrated norm to walk away as soon as someone hurts you.
Leaving makes you tough and independent, staying makes you weak and needy.
As is so often the case, however, we, as Christians, are called to live differently. When Peter asks Jesus how often he is to forgive someone, the answer he gets is “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).
We read that and think, really?! Seventy times seven is a lot of forgiveness!
But that’s nothing compared to the forgiveness offered to us through the self-sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.
Here are some painful facts for you: