There’s a question thats been floating around in my head these past few days…
It’s been driving me crazy, and it demanded an answer.
Why are Christians so shocked when a fellow sinner… sins? I mean, think about it. Say you’re sitting in church, and the guy next to you reeks of weed and bad life decisions. Or say you overheard your bible study friend admit to fantasizing about a guy she saw on her soap opera. I’d bet 9 times out of 10 you’d avoid eye contact and silently intervene in prayer for the person’s salvation. But what if that person was already saved? What if they loved the Lord? How would you feel then? Shocked? Disappointed? Angry?
Well, God’s been ministering to my heart about this—and His response to my question came while I was driving home from Aventura Mall. (For those of you who don’t know anything about Aventura, it’s where Satan lives. Just kidding. It’s just a really busy fancy area near Miami where there’s tons of backed up traffic, rich vacationers, and retired old people from Canada.)
So I was driving, and I was having a great day thus far. I was in a wonderful mood, I had Jesus music playing on my radio, the sun was shining, and I got all of my morning shopping done at the mall without stabbing anyone. It really was a great day. Until I got stuck behind a black Volkswagen with a handicapped sticker dangling from the rearview mirror. Lord, have mercy. Don’t get me wrong, I love old people. (Grandma I know you’re reading this, I love you so much. You make the best oatmeal cookies.) But, when it comes to driving behind an old handicapped gentleman who can barely see over the steering wheel… I tend to lose my temper.
After 10 minutes of driving behind this man who was going 25mph in a 40mph zone—I yelled at the top of my lungs, “For f***k’s sake dude, driiiiivvveeeeeee!” Yes. You read that correctly. This Christian missionary who loves the orphan, feeds the homeless, speaks at youth groups, and tithes at church… yelled out a very loud F-bomb at an old handicapped gentleman.
And that was the moment when God decided to speak. Ha, His timing gets me every time. It was only a few seconds after those five words escaped my lips, that the “Christian guilt trip” and feelings of inadequacy and failure started to settle in. But the Lord wouldn’t have it. He stopped me in my tracks.
The Holy Spirit nudged my heart saying, “Sam, when has your sin ever gotten in the way of My love for you? Why do you still feel guilt and shame when you stumble or make a mistake? Remember when you used to curse every single day in high school? Remember when you were addicted to porn and lied to your parents night after night? Remember when you thought I wasn’t even real? Did you already forget that I loved you just as much then as I do now? Your sin has already been paid for, so live free. You’ve already been forgiven and nothing (not even your sin) can separate you from My love—not anymore. You were saved by My grace, not by your own goodness—so let it go… and let’s keep moving forward. I love you, my spunky child. I’m proud of you for just being my daughter.”
Man. God is love, He is grace, and He wasn’t shocked by my sin—not at all. I realized in that moment that I still tend to hold myself to a higher standard of perfection… a standard that I will never reach. I forget that the Lord is the one who makes me holy, not the other way around. I forget that faith in Jesus is what saves me, not my own self-righteousness or good behavior. I used to be a legalist. This means that daily guilt trips, self-shaming, and penance were commonplace in my life. I tried to make myself good enough (even perfect enough) for God, but I was more concerned with breaking God’s rules than I was with breaking God’s heart. But the Lord didn’t give up on me.
As Christians, we are called to live holy, obedient, and sacrificial lives—but that doesn’t happen by trying to walk in perfection. First off, try it—I dare you. It’s nearly impossible for me to get through an entire hour without having an impure thought or idolizing something in some way. Perfection was Jesus’ job, ours is to walk by faith—and even faith is a gift from God.
Once we accept the fact that Jesus never called us to be perfect, we will be free to be good. We will be free to love Him and enjoy Him and rest in His presence—which is exactly what our Father in heaven wants His children to do. He wants us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are loved and accepted by just believing in His Son. When we know that our sins have been forgiven, and that Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection were enough—freedom happens. And when that happens… change happens.
You will start to feel different, speak different, and maybe you’ll even look different. Maybe you’ll curse less and you’ll pray more. You’ll feel peace instead of anxiety. You’ll start to feel compassion towards your enemies and you’ll give more generously. And your sin won’t keep you in the bondages of shame, it will drive you closer into your Father’s arms in repentance. Why?
Paul said it perfectly in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.” (MSG)
When you know that you’re loved, you will be free to love back. It’s a beautiful thing, really.
So to bring this rather lengthy post full circle: Why are Christians so shocked when a fellow sinner… sins? Because we forget the Gospel of grace. We forget that we are loved just as we are because God chooses to love us. We forget that we are His, and that His love covers all of our sins. We forget that we have already been forgiven and that the price for our sinful lives has already been paid in full.
So always remember who you are—a new creation.
And never forget Who you belong to… the One who calls you My Beloved.