We covered the Silver Rule number one: Never confuse God and life. Today we move to Silver Rule number two: Never Confuse Christ and Christians.
Jesus came to save selfish, inconsiderate, self-centered, self-righteous, arrogant, disrespectful, intolerant, immoral, critical, short-tempered people. In other words: He came to save people just like me and you. The very first thing we are admitting as a Christian is, “I am hopelessly lost and I cannot save myself”. The reason Christians get so upset with other Christians is that that these self-professed sinners, sin. For some reason, this takes us by surprise.
I genuinely believe that there is nothing Christians cannot settle between them if they will pray about it, seek to forgive, and be honest with themselves and God. I’ve seen the Lord restore seemingly impossible situations. That’s what Christianity looks like when everyone obeys the scriptures.
Unfortunately for many years I was naïve enough to believe that every sincere believer facing a crisis defaulted to obeying scripture. People have a lot of defaults but “to the scripture” is not necessarily one of them. A decade ago my world was rocked when I became aware of a situation that any person of conscience, regardless of creed or lack thereof, would have had to address. In a healthy situation I would have been thanked but the situation was not healthy and all and my naiveté got blown out of the water.
The result was pain and confusion about God. How could He let evil triumph in His body? I expected Jesus to step in and shine a flood light on the situation bringing truth to light and healing everyone involved. I somehow thought it would all end in something akin to a group hug, which it did not.
Why God Doesn’t Step In
We lost a great deal in terms of time, health, material possession and more. It was terrible for my family and that was so painful. But the greatest torment for me was God’s apparent inaction. I was really tormented by the question, “Jesus, why didn’t You show up and turn on the floodlights?”
I would best paraphrase His answer: “I gave them floodlights. They wouldn’t turn them on”. God’s view of the situation was available in black and white, written down for the forgetful and totally accessible for anyone who genuinely cared to follow the scriptures. Adherence to the scriptures would have saved us and many others a great deal of pain. I had made the mistake of thinking He was silent when He was not. He anticipated the situation and His solution was very obvious. Jesus was always “for us” and never “against us”.
It is not uncommon for people to leave churches altogether because they make the mistake of faulting Christ for the actions of sinful people for whom He died. When we do that, we sin against God. We blame Christ for everything, even as He weeps with us. Whatever situation might cause you to want to avoid Christians, rest assured God has not been silent on your plight. He has always spoken the truth.
The Mystery of the Unseen
We are people engaged in spiritual battle. It involves the world of the seen and the unseen but we can only explain human interaction it in terms of what we see. We see people. We do not see the spiritual forces trying to harm them as well as us. The enemy’s goal is not just to destroy me, it’s to destroy the people with whom I am in conflict as well. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and he does not need my help. I am not saying that to justify sin. The reality is that people do dumb things with no malevolence in their heart at all. They simply don’t think things through scripturally. They are never my enemy.
Take the Long View
We tend to be more hurt by Christians than by non-believers because we expect more of those who seek to follow Christ. The world is totally brutal so when business partners seek to devour each other we are not as shocked. With Christians we expect reconciliation. For quite some time following the incident described above, I kept believing I could talk it out with people. I don’t do that anymore unless they approach me. As long as a bad experience is defining, it still has power, so let it go. Most things can be worked out this side of eternity. Some cannot. I have finally realized, “We are eternal people. I can wait”.
The Only Way to Give Back
Jesus, never, left you nor condoned the wrong done. Don’t confuse Christ and Christians. He gives grace and we all need grace. One day as I battled my warring emotions He reminded me that the only chance I have to give Him grace is when I give grace to another person for whom He died. They don’t know they need it and they aren’t asking for it but I can show them unmerited favor. It is the only chance I have to give back to my Savoir what He gave to me.
Don’t confuse Christ and Christians and you’ll save yourself a world of hurt. Just don’t withhold from others the gift He freely gives you. It really sets you free.