Today I asked a friend to pray for me to honestly live out the truths of grace in a tough environment. I know, I know. Be careful what you pray for because God will often answer in unexpected ways. I have been praying that prayer for myself recently and I have already had a couple of situational at bats. The first time I had a bloop hit. The second time I swung and missed with the fury of Casey at the Bat.
Pitchers know that every hitter (except Vlad Guerrero) has a location in the strike zone where they are likely to miss. My weakness in the zone is being quick to judge and quick to distance from those who are not walking the walk. I love the way that my oft-quoted buddies at Truefaced put it.
“When we view other Christians as sinners trying to be saints instead of saints who still sin then we give ourselves permission to judge them.”
God’s Word says that we are saints. He sees Christ in Dave Burchett even when I swing and miss. I am righteous because of Jesus. I can’t work my way to sainthood. I can live out of who I am and allow God to love through me. Grace compels me to walk toward my fellow Christians instead of away from them. One thing I need to remind myself daily is this simple fact.
I don’t have any idea what other people are going through.
There is a powerful song by the country group Sawyer Brown about how infrequently we stop to consider that other people might be enduring real trials. Here is a sample of the lyrics from the song “They Don’t Understand”.
Everybody’s busy with their own situation
Everybody’s lost in their own little world
Bottled up, hurried up trying to make a dream come true
They don’t understand
Everybody’s living like there ain’t no tomorrow
Maybe we should stop and take a little time
‘Cause you never really know what your neighbors going through
They don’t understand
I remember driving away from one of Joni’s early doctor appointments after her breast cancer diagnosis. Joni was driving her car as I followed. She was distracted (imagine that) and missed her turn. She drove forward to the next opportunity to turn left and double back. Because she temporarily blocked the left lane a guy laid on his horn and started gesturing. I remembering thinking that this guy was not a quality human being (rough translation of my thoughts). I wondered if it would make a difference in the attitude of this, uhhh, not really nice homosapian if he knew what was going through my wife’s mind. He was busy worrying about his 20 second delay as she was thinking about her health, her family, her job, and maybe her life.
I am humbled again that somehow God is patient with me as I work this out. Regular readers know of my admiration for the group Casting Crowns. The song “Who Am I” comes to mind in this context.
Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt.
Take a moment to meditate on that. Then take a moment to meditate on a later verse.
Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again.
That God sees my sin and looks on me with love is mind boggling. How can I accept that love and not at least attempt to offer it to others? Because there is not a (Christian cussing warning) dang thing that I have done to deserve mercy like that. From a human perspective that person who is quick to judge probably doesn’t “deserve” grace. But did you? I know I didn’t.
Not because of who I am,
But because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done,
But because of who you are.
I give my space to Paul of Taursus to wrap this one up.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12, NLT)