Being a Christian means having accepted what Jesus Christ did in paying the price for our sins. It also implies a certain standard of behavior: Modest, generous, practical, kind, thrifty, brave and true – all of the things we are to set our thoughts on according to Philippians 4:8. In a world where everything goes, declaring one’s faith in Christ sets a person up to be perceived by a strange and stringent standard.
So, what happens when we make a mistake? What do we do when we sin? The Apostle John encourages us that if we confess those sins to God, He will faithfully and justly forgive us and cleanse us. It would be just fine if the consequences of our sin ended here, but the truth of the matter is, when we sin and miss the mark, it affects the ‘un-churched’ around us and how they see Christianity.
What happens when we continually ask forgiveness for the same sin over and over again? People see us going to church and reading our Bibles at lunch. They then witness our driving erratically, honking frantically and waiving the universal sign for, ‘the light is green, you can drive now,’ on the very same day. It’s not always pretty, walking the line between our spirituality and our humanity. Some of our un-churched friends and co-workers dismiss us as ‘crazy.’ Admittedly, it can feel a little schizophrenic inside the skin of a Christian sometimes. I remember being newly born again and thinking to myself, “What good is this salvation business if it doesn’t keep me from doing the same stupid stuff I was doing when I wasn’t saved?”
Even the Apostle Paul felt that way a time or two. To the Roman church, he wrote “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”
That sounds kind of crazy to me. Can you imagine what that looks like to someone who doesn’t ‘get’ Christians? Cheer up…here comes the good news.
A bad day is a great time to let your light shine. God resists the proud but give grace to the humble (Peter 5:5), so pull that friend, co-worker aside and apologize for ‘losing it.’ That will get their attention. Acknowledge that, even as a Christian, you still struggle with doing the right thing, just like anybody else. The difference is, every time you mess up you have Someone to go to that will give you a clean slate and help you do it better the next time. Then ask them for a clean slate and let them know it’s not always easy, but you’re trying and thank them for their patience while you work this out. You’ve just gained their respect and an accountability partner, and sown Kingdom seed toward their salvation!
And in one fell swoop, the Christian life makes sense again.