I’ve been reading John for the past week or so. Honestly, I’ve never been much for reading the bible before. Never really got into it, nor did I enjoy it that much, but recently, well, let’s just say, I’ve been missing out. And The Gospel of John has been amazing to say the least.
I like to start my day off by spending some time with God and my bible. Some days I can do it quietly, other times, I’m making breakfast and bouncing a baby on hip. But regardless of how I spend time with Him, I’m just grateful that I can.
So this week has been tough spiritually and John got me to thinkin’ and I’ve been convicted.
I am a Christian. I will tell anyone and everyone who asks me. I don’t hide it. I embrace it. Both arms wide open. But as I spent time with the Lord this past week, I started to wonder if other people, who did not know me (or the ones that did), could tell that I was a Christian. And then as I dissected that thought bit by bit, I started to wonder if they did, in fact, figure out that I was a Christian was it because I was acting like Christ or was it because I was hurting them or judging them?
You see, John is all about Jesus and love. (At least, that’s what speaks to me.) Over and over he kept reminding his disciples to love one another.
Of course, I love those around me. I love them a lot, but Jesus didn’t say love who you want, He said everyone.
Take a minute and think about this. You and I are supposed to love everyone. Everyone.
Well, to be honest, I don’t. I can’t even imagine how I would love everyone. Like really, really, love. I don’t want to take away from anyone who doesn’t have kids, but for me, the greatest example of love is the love I have for my children. I love them so much that it hurts. Forget wearing my heart on my sleeve, it’s in their hands, completely. And since Jesus didn’t say that we need to ‘like’ everyone, but rather ‘love’ them, I just don’t even know what that would feel like.
But let’s get back to my original thought. Can other people tell that I am a Christian? And if they can is it because I exhibit love and peace or is it because I exhibit judgement and hate?
Because let’s be real, if I’m being honest with you, I’m a terrible example of what it means to be a Christian. I’m serious. I am terrible. I can be mean, and quick to judge. I have a hard time forgiving others. I have an even harder time with loving the people I’m supposed to love let alone the millions of people that I’m really supposed to love.
There are days when I do everything that I know God hates. There are days when I don’t want to be held accountable and so guess what. I’m not.
I curse. I yell. I’m not always a good example. I am impatient. I am fed up. I am easily ticked.
There are days when I take all of this for granted. When I don’t appreciate even the smallest blessing.
There have been days when I don’t practice what I preach, not even in the slightest.
So is this what people associate Christians too? What an awful, terrible representation I have been.
What a disservice I have done.
I was reading John so I could teach others. So I could help others understand the lessons, and I think I’ve learned the biggest lesson of all.
I know I am not perfect. I know that I will never be perfect. There are going to be days when I mess up. There are going to be days when I feel like throwing in the towel. And we may think that it is on those days where we are not being the greatest example, but I really think that it is those days where we are the best example.
No, I am not saying that we should be mean to others. I am not condoning my bad behavior, but I am urging you to share with others how relatable we are. We are just like you, except it’s on those bad days that He’s there helping us pick up the pieces if we let Him.
We can be mad and we can be hurt and unforgiving, but we can also give it to Him and it’s better. As a Christian let me tell you that we never do it on our own. We don’t have to. (Can I get an Amen!)
But when people see me, no matter where I am. Whether I am at the store, or out to eat, or with my friends, I want them to be able to recognize what I am and who I represent.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect. We aren’t. Not even close. And I think sometimes we forget that. Being a Christian doesn’t make us better than someone else. Being a Christian doesn’t give us the right to judge anyone. It’s not a gateway to point out others’ flaws. Being a Christian makes us love everyone, whether we want to or not. It allows us to understand and extend grace because it has been extended to us.
My first reaction, honestly, ‘but what if they don’t deserve it?’ Sometimes, I take it in my own hands to decide whether or not people deserve my grace, patience, understanding, or forgiveness. And most of the time, especially if they are close to me, I decide that they don’t deserve those things, and I stand my stubborn ground until they fix it.
Um, excuse me?!
Say wha? My Father forgives me everyday. I don’t deserve it, I don’t even always ask for it, but He just does it because that’s who He is.
That’s not the Lord I’m representing when I decide on my own terms who deserves my forgiveness or grace.
Of course these people are reluctant to call themselves a ‘Christian’. It’s not a very pretty term. It’s a loaded statement. It can be scary, but more than all of that, it’s been terribly represented.
When people see me or you do they see love? Do they know that they deserve our grace and our mercy just because? Are they aware that they are our brothers and our sisters? Because if they don’t even know these things, how can we expect them to know and love the Lord?
Instead of examples we have become distractions.
It is our job to let people know who our God is. We are His army. But instead of fighting for Him, who He is, and His Kingdom, we are selfishly fighting for ourselves.
It’s about time we change that.