No – not ‘Christians’. You.
Not when you’re ‘better’ or ‘trying harder’. Not when you first came to faith or were ‘really going for it’
How does God see you, right now?
I ask because, for me, there’s a gap. A gap between what’s true for others (grace) – and what’s true for me (musttryharder).
My head knows the answers. My head’s been to Sunday school and Bible college and prayer meeting. God sees me as-perfect-in-Jesus. My head says three words: ‘He loves me’.
My heart, (a good evangelical), also believes in threes:
‘Could do better’.
My head says ‘run to Him’. My heart says ‘run from Him’.
My head says ‘righteous, accepted, justified, redeemed’. Cosmic concepts that are for All Mankind.
My heart says ‘cosmic concepts don’t quite stretch to Emma in Eastbourne’. ‘Shameful, sinful, condemned, not good enough: that’s what I feel‘.
Head. And heart.
God is sovereign – so He’s putting up with me.
God loves me – but does He like me? I’m not sure.
God is patient and kind – but also slightly frustrated. Emma’s stuck on the basics when she should have moved on. Trusting. Praying. Stuff the other kids get. Disappointing.
I think – maybe – He looks at me and He’s a bit sad. Sad I’m not happier. Sad because He’s given me all this stuff – and I don’t appreciate it. Sad that I’m not living the way He wants. Sad I’m not the person He wants me to be.
At times like this, I want to stay away from other Christians. I want to stay away from prayer and I want to stay away from church. Other people don’t get it – and if I go I’ll just feel condemned. There’s so much I haven’t prayed about, it seems rude to start now. I feel guilty enough already. Sort myself out – then I’ll go back. Once I feel it.
The truth is this:
When I don’t feel it – this is when I need other believers most.
When I stay at home, God – and others – become caricatures. My heart hardens and I retreat into myself.
When I go to church and hear the truth, I’m reminded – it’s for me too. My heart hears again: you are loved. My eyes are lifted to someone more beautiful than me. I learn afresh that everyone struggles: and that’s really okay. Before God and before others: it’s okay to be me. It’s okay to be you.
Wherever you’re at: prayer meeting or pub; self-harming or self-mortifying – the gospel is this: you are deeply deeply loved.
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)