Monday, May 18, 2009

Under the Microscope

It can be difficult to walk through life, with its highs and lows, under the watchful (and often judgemental) eyes of others.

I frequently feel bad for celebrities and the gossip and conjecture that follows them wherever they go. Gain a couple pounds, "look at the baby bump!" Walk down the street without smiling or holding your spouse's hand, "trouble in paradise!" Go out on a business lunch only to find pictures of yourself and an associate of the other gender plastered on magazines, "look who's cheating!" Some might argue that this is the life they signed up for. I think more likely they signed up to do a job they loved and were (really) good at. But celebrities are just people, like us, who struggle through life, argue with their spouses, and at times get beaten down by this world.

Though not quite as famous, and generally not on the cover of magazines, Christians are another group that seem to live under the microscope of others' judgements. Get frustrated and yell at the kids, "I though (s)he was a Christian?" Be seen enjoying a glass of wine or a beer while out at a restaurant, "Ohmygoodness, caught in the act!" Get caught up in gossip or passing judgement on someone else, "That hypocrite!" Some might argue that by signing up for this Christian life we have decided we are better than the rest, and therefore deserving of such judgements. In reality, we just signed up to follow the Jesus that we love. Christians are just people, too, who struggle through life, and get caught up in the junk of this world.

The difference that people look for in Christians is that they should be perfect, fully living up to the standards of the Bible. The difference in Christians, though, should not be noticed in rules and regulations, codes of conduct and such. The difference is the heart.

The actions of the Christian should be motivated by love and not self-serving, certainly. But even believers mess it up and act selfishly. Here, though, is what you should watch for in the Christ follower - a spirit that recognizes when it has done wrong, a heart that regrets and repents, and a person who tries to do better the next time.

Any Christian you see will, at some point or another, speak or act in some way that will disappoint. They will gossip, they will yell at their children and argue with their spouses, they will be greedy and jealous, they will be vengeful, they may lie, steal, or cheat. But for those who truly believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they will not be content to stay this way. You will see in them a heart's desire to be different, to love better, to forgive more quickly, to resolve broken relationships, to clamp their mouths.

They will not always succeed at this. Their attitudes and actions will never be perfect. But when you watch their hearts, you will notice something different.

I imagine there would be a lot less people "disillusioned" with the church today if they were looking for heart change rather than perfect behavior. The church is not a place for a bunch of perfect, plastic people; it is just a giant gathering of sinners saved by grace. People who, because of that grace, want to do better than they did before.

1 comment:

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