Easter is a time that always knocks me off-kilter----off balance. Here I am---living life and getting worked up over petty things that don't matter----handling things that do matter as if they don't----thinking critical thoughts of myself and others---all carried away with my own little microcosm. And here comes Easter. Good Friday in particular----remember what Christ did so that you could walk with God---so that you can live a life that reflects that walk---so that you can have a relationship with the only purely good God that ever is or was or will be. Remember. It should knock me off kilter---it should put my sights back on God----and there is nothing remotely balanced about God.
If you profess faith in Christ---people look at you closely. Some people look at you closely to find your faults---to find your pettiness----and that way they can dismiss your faith as faulty and petty. Some people look at you closely because it strengthens their own sense of worth---of self-righteousness---when they find you to be lacking. And some people are Christians too---and they think---as Christians---we should be better than that---we should stand apart---we know better than to act that way.
And when I say some people---I put myself under that broad umbrella term too. I think it's easy to look for reasons to dismiss people--other Christians---or just other people even. Because people are messy----people are hard to deal with. People can be downright infuriating. Isn't it sometimes easier to walk away?
This time of year--I remember that God didn't dismiss me because I'm messy---because I'm too hard to deal with. God didn't dismiss me because I'm infuriating. I'm stuck on "Howl's Moving Castle" here again. I think about Sophie---who was cursed and turned from a young, healthy woman into a 90 year old woman with one swift spell. The curse is actually broken very early on in the story---but Sophie keeps herself old by her own will. As the story progresses---sometimes she lets go---and you see her briefly as young again. But over and over, she reverts back to the 90 year old woman because it takes her forever and a day to really understand---the curse is broken. The only thing keeping you this way is you. I'm the same way---I have moments---sometimes only seconds a day---where I live in the freedom that Christ died to give me. And then I revert back---living under my own curse---instead of in the peace---in the joy---that is a life where you walk with God. It's ridiculous---it's infuriating---I haven't wandered 40 years in the desert yet---but there's a part of me that understands the inclination. The human inclination to do life on your own. But God doesn't dismiss me----he is always there. He doesn't dismiss any of us. He knows we aren't perfect---he knows that we can never be complete without Him---He knows that we can't live a perfect life. So He does it for us---He becomes human---He feels thirst, hunger, pain---the anguish of the cross---where God turns His back on Christ---where Christ experiences the separation from God--so that we don't have to.
This time of year---I remind myself---don't dismiss people because they're messy. Remember God's love, God's patience, God's kindness to you. And pray for a heart that can extend that Grace to others. I remind myself---pray without ceasing to live a life that reflect God's love and God's grace. And yet I'd also like to remind others----don't dismiss Christ because Christians aren't perfect. Folks----Christians are Christians because they understand how completely imperfect they are. That's it---we love what is Good---yet we can never be completely Good. Christ bridges the gap for us. And though loving God makes us want to be Good---we aren't always going to be successful. Speaking for myself---MOST of the time---I'm not going to be successful. My hope is never in myself---it lies only in the unflinching, unconditional, sacrificial love of God.
This time of year---I remind myself----spend less time looking at yourself---or at others---and take a good hard look at the cross. The cross where my curse was broken---the cross where your curse was broken. Stop living tethered to perceptions of your sin---of my sin. God paid our debt---why I can be so intent on keeping a running tab is beyond me----unfathomable---at the foot of the cross.