WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
Whether you’ve been a believer all your life or you’re new to it, odds are at some point you feel too humbled to admit your faith openly. Not for the “being judged” or the negative connotations some will attach, but because you don’t feel justified to call yourself a believer.
This is more than evident at church. You see others and think they’re so perfect. So attuned and enlightened and their world seems almost magical, as if God reached down from Heaven with the tip of his finger and touched them and ever since then, they and their lives have been perfect. They look and act perfect, react perfectly–everything about them just screams that they’re chosen and it’s clear to anyone with the eyes to see it and in the aura surrounding them for those who can’t.
We get this impression of, or we create it in our minds, the perfect Christian. And that impression of perfection both attracts and frustrates us. Why?
Because it isn’t accurate or true, though it often takes a long while for us to see that, and because we don’t measure up–and we know we never will. It usually takes us a long time to realize that, too. To let go of the idealized images and see real, live human beings instead.
Overall, Christians do aspire to be better than they were, to do better than they’ve done, but I know none who have an idyllic life. I know none who do not have troubles, or suffer the same challenges as everyone else. I know none who don’t at times feel frustrated and battle their own will or temper or those pesky challenges on defining lines between being righteous and judgmental.
My point is that no one lives challenge-free. No mortal is perfect. And so our feelings of humility, which can be a good thing, aren’t well founded if they make us frigid in the realm of openly recognizing our value and our faith.
In this country, we’re free to openly acknowledge and choose what we believe. Others are not so fortunate. They must be closet Christians or face dire consequences including imprisonment and/or death. We worry about what someone else will think; they worry about staying alive. Interestingly enough, in those places where closet Christians live, many risk imprisonment and/or death and meet to worship anyway. You have to admire that tenacity, that determination, that courage.
But that’s a whole different post. This one is about our perceptions and our mental image of what a Christian looks like. A while back, a woman flipped off a guy. She’s a Christian. Ugly comments (judgmental comments) were made about her. Okay, so she wasn’t expressing much neighborly love by flipping someone off, but were those saying the ugly things expressing it?
Who knows what provoked the gesture? I’m not justifying it or condemning it. I’m saying we don’t have to have an opinion–and if we do, we’d be wise to keep it to ourselves. The woman, no doubt, will work through this with God and they’ll settle the matter. We and our opinions aren’t needed.
What is significant to us is understanding that being a believer doesn’t require perfection. Christ took care of that. His blood, the Cross, took care of that. God’s grace takes care of that. We’ve got other matters to address.
It’s easy to condemn ourselves for all we’re not and to feel inferior and less than worthy–the devil works hard to make sure we feel all that and more. It’s easy to develop lofty ideals of what a Christian is supposed to be. But the simple truth is there are no cookie-cutter Christians. Not made by God.
No, He’s a hands-on, very individual-oriented, God. Before we were even born, He fashioned us. He gave us strengths and weaknesses, dreams and desires and skills and the potential for skills that would ensure our ability to accomplish and achieve our purpose. He invested, took special care to blend our physical and emotional and spiritual selves so that we were both unique and universal. In other words, he made each of us using the human being mold and then broke the mold and hand-worked us infusing us with our unique qualities. We’re a work of art that is not replicated.
His work of art.
Years ago, I heard someone say, “God doesn’t make trash.”
It stuck with me. We’re His: Not cookie-cutter copies, not reprints or knock-offs, but certified original works of art. No two of us are exactly the same, and we all have little imperfections that make us unique.
If we work to be better than we were, to live and walk in faith, then we’re not trashing up His creation. Not even when our imperfections manifest. It doesn’t matter what we do for a living, what car we drive or neighborhood we reside in. It doesn’t matter what education we’ve gotten or how much money we make or how many things we’ve acquired. None of that makes us believers. None of that makes any difference at all in how God relates to us.
Some Christians work 9-5 in executive jobs. Some work the graveyard shift, ride Harleys and are head-to-toe tattooed. (Yes, I know the Bible says not to mark the body, but if God can forgive some of the things we’ve all done…) And that’s my point.
Christ was perfect. We’re not. There isn’t a mortal perfect Christian among the rest of us. There isn’t a cookie-cutter Christian. God crafted each child individually, specially, and they’re all important to Him. So whatever measuring stick you use (either for or against yourself), it’s important to remember that.
We might wonder what He was doing, stinting us on patience or making us short or heavy or whatever, but He knew exactly what He was doing. And we know His motives–while we might not understand them or even grasp them–are always, without fail, for our greater good.
We are imperfect. Flawed to the core. But we are justified. By blood, by the Cross, by Grace.
And we see it evidenced in knowing we are crafted precisely and exactly as He desired.
That alone is justification enough.
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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: The Marked Star and In Case of Emergency: What You Need to Know When I Can’t Tell You (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!