January 26, 2011
The quote that displays on my Facebook profile says, “I believe sincerely that if Christians took the time to admit that none are perfect and show love to those ‘obviously’ imperfect, then the world would be saved at an alarming rate.”
I have been marinating in this thought for a few days now. I am one of the obviously imperfect, and the outreaching hands of those in my life now have been the most positive, grounding force in my maturing faith. I know that without the love and forgiveness shown by those in my life, I would still be wandering, lost in sin and feeling like I had to find another way to God because I certainly can’t measure up to the “Christian standard.”
So, I started thinking, if more people were like the women in my small group at church, we’d all be better off. Yes, there are those of us who’ve had children before marriage, and women who’ve been redeemed from that. There are women who didn’t have children until marriage but certainly weren’t saints, and they’ve been redeemed from that. And, there are women who followed all the rules and lived the life God asked of them, but instead of looking down their noses, they lovingly come alongside the rest of us. I can’t say for certain, but I fully believe it’s because they know that they have also been redeemed from some less obvious sin.
You see, I used to look up to these impossible standards and feel so discouraged. I would see these ladies at church and feel judged by them, whether they were judging me or not, because their lives seemed to be so together, so much closer to God’s plan than mine. But, as I grow, it is not the Marys who inspires me the most: it is the Davids and Thomas’ in this life. The imperfect, the doubters. The ones who need forgiveness as much as I do.
In my world, it is hard for me to look at the life some lead because it turns into uncomfortable conviction. (That is not a bad thing, by the way. It is a calling to something better). Still, there are some that are so encouraging to me because of their obvious growth: my friend who refused to name her daughter after a Greek goddess because she didn’t want to glorify an idol. My brother-in-law’s strength of conviction and growing maturity in spirit. My sister’s unfaltering compassion. My father’s ability to seek academically but believe intrinsically. A friend from my old life who stuck by me and really loved me, the sinner, despite my horrendous sins.
Maybe you spend time thinking there is a standard you cannot meet and it keeps you from trying, but I tell you that there is a world full of Christians who love enormously because they know that they cannot meet the standard either.
It is our constant striving for more that binds us the most.
Granted, there are snobby Christians, but that doesn’t mean there should be snobby doubters. Don’t resist those who are further down the path because you assume they think they’re better than you. It is a mistake I made for far too long, and one you don’t have to live.