Wednesday, June 2, 2010
It's My Life, I'll Live How I Want
The word “sin” has terrible connotations to much of my generation, I think. I know it even does for me. I grew up avoiding those who used any kind of “Christianese” language because it left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t want to talk to anyone that would just tell me how I was living my life poorly and how the “perfect” religion that Christianity is can make my life perfect. I saw right through that. I knew that “Christians” were divorcing their spouses, abusing their children, cursing, getting drunk, and having sex just as much as anyone else I knew. Why would I want to be a part of a group of people that claimed perfection, yet lived by looser morals than I did? No thanks. Preach hell to me all you want. I ain’t doin’ it.
Then, I experienced God (insert Hallelujah Chorus, Anathallo's Hoodwink, or Sigur Ros's Hoppipolla). God is much different than all the denominations of Christianity portray him to be and all the seemingly “fake perfect people” whom I perceived to be dwelling in the church. God is beautiful (that’s an understatement). People are pretty ugly, although I can’t say some of us humans don’t try to be beautiful like God. Others of us, though, need to put ourselves and our perceptions (of ourselves and other people) aside. Probably all of us need to do this to some extent or another. Actually, I know all of us do. I can’t think of one immaculate person that is exempt from that.
The Bible, whether you want to read it or not, says that all people are sinners (again that harsh word).
Really think about it though. We protect ourselves, often at the expense of other people and their feelings. We will do whatever it takes to be the “best” or to have the “best”—lying, cheating, stealing. I can see this in my daily interactions with people. I know you can, too, no matter if you hang with Christians all the time or not. Kids are so raw, and they are especially experts at helping us see how humans can be so screwed up when we fail to let ourselves see it in our own lives. We see how broken families affect kids and usually lead them down broken paths as well (not saying that all kids are future sugar mamas and pimp daddies, but think about people’s perception of marriage now since divorce has become so common—see post below about marriage for more thoughts on that one…).
Whether you are a Christian or not, you are going to have to answer to God and his moral standards.
That’s a tough one. You may not agree with it or think it’s true, but if it is, think about how much that plays into people’s daily lives… every single moment.
We may think that “the way I do things is how my personal world can be at its best,” but what about the way we affect other people? Sometimes choosing to live our lives the way we see fit is the worst thing for those around us, especially if those around us are seeking to show us they care about us. That misunderstanding can often be the biggest slap in the face. I have seen it in my immediate family, even. One person has a strong opinion attached to emotions and all of a sudden they are enemies with their family member who takes the opposite view.
Even worse, God is affected by these things that we do. The picture of Jesus Christ being crucified is often a bloody and violent one, but I do think it is that way to remind us of how much God is hurt by the things we do to his world and in his world. Think about how terrible and how hurt you felt when you were in the biggest fight you have ever gotten in with your closest friend. God hurts so much more than that. We can’t even understand it, which is crazy to me.
I wish I could just shout this on the rooftop (with choreographed dance of course, like in West Side Story) for the whole country to hear: BUCK UP. I don’t mean this in the “American Way,” like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” or “be a man.” I mean it in a way that a lot of people have forgotten about or are afraid to acknowledge—own up to your failure. Failure is another way of saying sin has corrupted our lives once again. We all fail. Every day. We fail so hard sometimes. We can’t always be putting ourselves in the right, and we must acknowledge the fact that other people might have a better perspective on situations than we do. Sometimes people want to share their perspective with you so that they can help you or show you they care. Why would anyone spit back in the face of someone who is attempting to show care to them? (Well, I can tell you the answer to that question, but it’s that nasty word again.)
Tolerance is blind and relative. I actually wish the word didn't exist. I think it implies passiveness when there is so much to be done in this world. Grace is much, much different than tolerance. Grace is firm for all people, even people who are wrong and failures (aka EVERYONE). The authors of the Bible write about God hating sin, and we are actually supposed to hate sin, too. That’s awesome because I do hate sin. It messes up so many beautiful things in my life, not to mention what worse things it does in other people’s lives. Lots of times people think that hating sin means helping their neighbor see how sinful they are, but really I think it speaks more directly to our own lives. A faith in Jesus Christ, God incarnate, is equally about our personal hearts and the way we live our lives behind closed doors. Sure, we are also called to “rebuke” one another. Let’s not eliminate that, but instead let’s coat it with vulnerability and genuine care and grace for those to whom we are speaking. Let’s put ourselves aside!
I am extremely selfish, but that’s what makes me a great person to let other people know they are being selfish, too. I can share my experience and my continual struggle with them. God has used my sin to help someone. How cool. I love knowing that I can help people. Sin is funny because it is a hugely alienating thing, but God is so good at taking things that are twisted and horrible and making them good. He helps us use sin as a means for building community and understanding the character of God more easily. If we own up to our failure and begin to move in the direction of reconciliation (with God, with one another, with ourselves, and with the earth), we give God a big door into changing our lives and our little personal worlds, not to mention THE WHOLE WORLD. (breaks into “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” haha)
But really, God cares so much! What great news!
(PS- I really love that at the end of all my posts, I realize there is no other thing/being to serve beside the Lord. He is so good, guys, seeeeeriously.)