It happens everyday. I don’t do the things I should, and I say and do things I shouldn’t. For decades I’ve believed in God’s grace. But I mostly used it as fuel for self hatred.
“If I really love God shouldn’t I be able to follow his commandments?” More than that- shouldn’t I be like Jesus??? At least some days??
I’ve read and studied the fruits of the spirit so many times I could feed a nation if they were literal fruit. (Albeit a nation with very loose stools. Spirit or not, a diet of all fruit isn’t a great idea unless you really like the bathroom. Same goes for that evil cabbage soup diet. Today’s bonus tip: don’t bother.)
Okay, if you got through that last paragraph.. Let’s talk about sin, holiness and us. As a believer, I truly long to live like Jesus. Here’s the thing: I can’t. I’m a sinner. Saved by grace, growing as he grows me, but I can’t force growth and perfection appears to be reserved for Jesus. So not fair.
I’ve always wanted to be good. But I can never be good enough. Before Christ, I just felt bad when I got caught. After? I used my guilt as a whip to self flaggelate like some weird chuck Taylor with maxi skirts, wearing mom- monk.
Here’s what I’m thinking about today: the bible says our (my) righteousness is like filthy rags. (It’s actually a pretty gross term, I’ll let you google that for yourself.) The bottom line: We aren’t good enough. Nothing we can do, is.
Now I sound like a nihilist. Why would God make us like this? I totally think you should get a clean hard drive and a new operating system once you start to follow Jesus. One that isn’t wrought with the ability to do what we don’t want to do. (I may have tried to jump start my car in 90+ degree heat yesterday and it turned out the battery won’t hold a charge. Heat+ frustration + Tracey= sin. Trust me.)
Here’s what I’m learning- the bible says to seek him and His righteousness, it doesn’t say: you must be perfect or you suck. It also doesn’t say to seek your own righteousness. His. I think I’ve been trying to force righteousness in myself instead of seeking His. Why? Because I want to be good.
But is that what’s most important? How good I am? Is that what makes anyone want to join me in following Christ? I doubt it. Let’s face it, maybe there’s a reason we’re not perfect. Maybe God needs our imperfections. The bible says his strength is perfected in our weakness. An old quote says:” God’s light shines though our brokenness.” We’re a bunch of crack pots. Maybe not so useful for carrying of water long distances, maybe as torches with light burning from within. Light from Him, that shines through our brokenness.
What if I stopped wasting time and energy trying to be perfect and Godlike? (No lie- guilt gets my panties into a paralyzing bunch. Most days I’m just glad Christianity isn’t like Survivor cause I’d have been voted off Christian island years ago. I’m just not good enough.)
What if I gave up the guilt and *gasp* allow God to shine through even when I sin??? (I think that’s possible. Stick with me.) What if it’s my response to my sin that matters? What if it’s as important to be graceful to myself as it is to be graceful to others? What if I turn from the sins over and over and take responsibility for my actions and make amends and say I’m sorry and let God use even that?
What if I really believed that someday, I’ll be perfected, but until that day, I don’t have to beat myself to spiritually/ emotional death every time I lie, sin in anger, gossip or one of the other million things I do.
What if we all did? Maybe we’d be less judgmental of others. Maybe we’d be more helpful to some who’s struggling, because we wouldn’t be so self-beaten down that we can’t help anyone else up. Maybe we’d be mobilized with grace instead of paralyzed by guilt?
Would the world go to crap? (We’re mostly already there, just sayin.) Would there be Christian anarchy with everybody sinning with abandon? Maybe. Maybe not.
Maybe Paul was right when he talked about sin and grace. “Should sin abound? No!” He goes on to talks bout God’s love drawing us to repentance and grace…. Not guilt beatings. They just hurt.
Maybe embracing our dark sides is a step in the direction towards godliness…. (I know that sounds insane. But the gospel can be like that.) That’s exactly what God does for us. Loves us. Where we are. Sinners that we are. Unbelievable as that is.
Like all parents he’s not crazy about everything we do…(the bible says God hates sin. Don’t be mistaken, I’m not taking about embracing our sin, I’m talking about embracing our dark side as a reminder of our need for a savior.)
I’m a mom. If my kids best themselves up the way I do when I sin, it would break my heart and I’d long to help them. If I forgave them and they kept punishing themselves? I’d be crushed.
I wonder how Jesus feels when we do the same? Jesus. The one who paid the price for every sin, past present and future.
So, my starry eyed friends.( sound weird? Go to www.mops.org for a peek at this years MOPS theme.) Maybe it’s time to look honestly into our darkness, embrace that God has a plan for it, even though we hate it and let go of guilt that keeps us from moving forward in grace and makes us feel not good enough? Maybe it’s time to embrace the grace that brings the brightest hope into even our darkest corners.
The darkest nights make the brightest stars
Dear lord, I give up. I long to follow you and I stumble every third (or second) step. I sin. Then I beat by self up and hate myself in ways that would break my heart if I were my kid, a friend or even a stranger on the street. Help me to embrace grace through my need for you and your daily mercy. Make me more like you, because my acting really sucks. I love you lord. Shine bright through my cracks. Even my sin. In Jesus amazing name, amen. Ps: lord, seriously… If you could flip a switch so I wouldn’t sin anymore that would rock.
**today was a surgery day. Hubby is well. But I wanted to get some of these thoughts out. I’ll edit to add links to pertinent paraphrased verses another day. 😉 much love! Ts