Friday, August 24, 2012
This is another post from far back in the dusty vault of this blog (meaning exactly three years back). I was re-reading through old posts tonight, considering them for an online devotional I've asked to contribute to, and this one stuck a chord with me. Earlier tonight J and I were having a conversation about sin and sinners and how most people like to point fingers at what other people do but don't like to consider that what they do is ALSO sin. Then here was this post, speaking to me almost as if I hadn't written it myself. That's how it is, of course. Writing from the past (and these blog posts are so very much like my journals) has a way of being both my own and something separate from me. Like it's straight from God alone, especially when He wants to teach me something that I apparently understood at some earlier point better than I do in this moment.
Anyway, here it is:
August 31, 2009
There are a whole lot of things on my mind tonight. And most of them I can't bear to write about. It's like that sometimes. I get frustrated with people, situations, attitudes, which is ridiculous, if you think about it: I mean that I have a bad attitude towards people who have what I consider bad attitudes about situations or people. There are folks who would rightly call that being hypocritical.
I am a hypocrite. And what's more, so are the rest of you. I always find it a bit strange that being a hypocrite is one of the chief criticisms of Christians, because we are no different than anyone else in the world. We judge what we don't know, judge what we do, and maybe even especially judge others who fail in precisely the same ways we do. Or maybe it is just me. Maybe I'm the only one who looks around the world and evaluates others' behavior based on my own failings. But I don't think so.
I think about all the things I've done, and all those I haven't done. I look back over the half-century in which I've been making mistakes, acting unjustly, doing wrong--sinning--and think it's a pretty ugly record. As the Psalmist says, if my sins were counted against me, I couldn't stand. If you asked me (and I trusted you enough) I could tell you the worst thing I've ever done (from my point of view), the things that make me shudder to remember, the things that were mean, petty, cruel, and it's no wonder that anyone might call me a hypocrite. I am every bit as 'bad' as my worst sin. But that worst sin isn't the worst from God's point of view. Or it is and it isn't. The lies I told, the gossip I spread, the things I stole (as a middle schooler!), the bad attitudes I've held onto--these are merely the symptoms of the true sin in my life--my selfish, prideful sense that I am the center of my own universe, rather than God.
The worst thing I ever did put Jesus on the cross. But so did the plethora of bad attitudes, unrighteous anger, critical spirit, and soooo many small things I have excused or rationalized or justified. It's all of them. Or one of them. Yes, just one of them, the smallest thing I don't even think of, is enough to call me a sinner. And the worst thing others do--the worst thing anyone has ever done--if repented of, is forgiven. Completely, utterly, no-holds-barred forgiven. If the worst thing I ever did put Him on the cross, the worst thing I ever did DID put Him on that cross.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2 that, "The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, 'who has know the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ."
We have the mind of Christ. The mind of the crucified Christ. The mind of the one who knew what we were and and died for us, anyway. We toss around the word grace a lot, but doesn't having the mind of Christ mean we extend grace toward all those who have done the worst things? Even to them? Even to those who continue to make bad choices, live in their sins, and rationalize their behavior? To those who (exactly like us) are culpable for putting Him on the Cross?
So, what's the worst thing you ever did? Hold that in your right hand. Then hold His blood-stained cross in the left. Now open your right hand and let it go! But that left hand? It's the only thing worth holding--against (actually TOWARD) yourself or anyone else.