My last blog post was pretty thick. I think I’ll try to make this one a little more straightforward and finish my thought from last time.
So, here’s the thing, whatever you may have heard on television or even in church, forgiveness and redemption are the center of Jesus teaching. There is no argument to be made, that’s what He taught. All of our petty squabbles and conceits, and even the not-so-petty ones can’t change that fact. The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep that are safe in the fold and goes gallivanting across the wilderness in search of the one idiot lamb (that would be me) that can’t seem to get it right, eats the wrong plants, walks off cliffs, etc. Jesus teaches us to love and forgive each other. It’s not our job to put the beat down on our neighbor or consider him a fool because he doesn’t think like we do. It’s our job to point him back to the Shepherd who loves him. Let me share part of a conversation with a friend who is struggling with the prospect of becoming a disciple of Jesus. He had just asked me in an email, “What if it turns out to be real and Jesus is Truth and I don’t measure up? I’d rather not know.” This is how I was given to answer, edited somewhat.
As for your fear, well, that one I can address. To me, the greatest gift of the gospel (ah, preacher alliteration!!) is this fact: We don’t measure up! In fact, to finally come to Christ, we start with the fact that we don’t and can’t measure up on our own. I reject that people are worthless, that flies in the very face of a Creator God, as if we could completely ruin something He made; but I cannot reject this: we sin, we don’t measure up. I have been in the faith for years and I still don’t measure up! I’ve grown past a lot of things and the Spirit’s work in me has been evident but I still see the areas of my own selfishness and sin that haven’t been resolved. That’s why we talk so much about Grace; Unmerited favor. Christ died for us to cover us with His righteousness so I can measure up because He measures up for me. I am free to grow in my journey and love freely and live abundantly because He measured up for me. Talk about free from sin! I still work against it in my own life to keep myself as clear as possible, but since the price is paid, it no longer hangs over me like Damocles’ Sword. I am free to live in a God created reality without the death sentence that such a life implies. God made you, man. And if I’m right, He loves you and respects what He made in you so much that He willingly died, or sent His Son to die, to set you free to be completely who He made you to be. You measure up, because the measurements are bathed in the love of a Father for His kids.
There. That’s the attitude we should have. None of us is any better than anyone else; we all stand in need of grace and unconditional love. The true believers, the real disciples of the Christ, understand this and give grace as they have received it: willingly, sacrificially, with a strong sense of forgiveness and a sincere attempt at loving unconditionally.
I really would like to blog more often. Prayers in that regard, please: that I would overcome my own laziness.