Why are we sometimes so hard on ourselves? Or, for that matter, hard on each other? Ever notice that?
Sometimes we set standards for ourselves that are almost impossible to meet. Especially when it comes to how much we expect by way of doing stuff. Even good stuff.
We can expect SO much of ourselves. And, when it comes to obedience, we can be so terrifically good at beating ourselves up when we fall short. And guilt sets in. Then, for good measure, we can easily do the same to others. Expect a lot of them. And loudly proclaim the obvious when they don’t measure up. And then turn to walk away from the “failure.”
No wonder someone said recently, “Christians can sometimes be SO mean!” That hurt to hear. But I think he was more right than I might care to admit. We CAN be mean – to ourselves, to each other. The result is that our lives get weighed down. The atmosphere in the group can feel heavy. Joy can get sucked right out of the room.
I wonder what it would be like to live in a community that could accurately live the life that Jesus did? A life of grace. A life that made all kinds of room for those that didn’t measure up to anybody’s standard. That hung around with such people. Cared for them. Loved them. Was patient with them. Set a positive example for them. And protected them from the mean attacks of so many religious zealots.
I wonder how much more peaceful my own life would be, how much more joyful, if I would truly savor the truth that I’m not any more loved – or not loved – by God based on how much work I do this week, or how well I do it? He simply loves me, in Christ – who did all the work necessary for my acceptance. Period. And God won’t accept me any more deeply if I manage to live my life more cleanly this week than last. Because the acceptance – total, and unconditional – is based completely on the perfect, pure, wonderful life, death and resurrection of my Saviour Jesus.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
I wonder if this might be what he meant?