Pity the Internal/Punish the External

Over the last few months the topic of sin has come up a lot in my life. More than that, the realization that we as humans put sin on levels and try to decide ourselves whose sin is worse is a common mistake we make. This past summer God really worked in my heart and showed me that unconsciously I was “ranking” people’s sins. When I came to college I assumed that this lesson had been learned and I had accepted my mistake and was going to try to live differently. But God continued to bring this topic back up in my life in many different areas. It wasn’t until Francine Rivers spoke at my universities chapel that I figured out what was left for me to do. God wanted me to be transparent to the world and share with others the realization I had and he wanted me to not be afraid to share my own brokeness with other people. Many times when we find these realizations or hear something that we full heartedly agree with, is meant for ourselves. This lesson and “light bulb moment” I had wasn’t only for me to share with others, but it was meant for myself. I’m not only writing this for everyone whose reading but I’m writing for myself as well as a reminder. I don’t enjoy to display my brokeness on a website for everyone to see but I believe that if God wants me to write about this and be honest with whoever decides to read my posts then God will make something beautiful out of it. So here goes nothing, God put this topic on my heart over the summer and he hit me with what I call “God’s humility hammer” pretty hard.

“I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching, “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. the same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law.” Romans 2:17-24 (MSG)

It hit me like a hurricane to where my tears were the weight of this storm. I was so busy trying to help guide my friends through their life choices that I forgot to have someone to guide me. I lived a life of surface with God and my relationship never grew because I never focused on myself or the problems that faced me. So many times because of the misconception that we’ve been taught we start to think we live a better life with less sin because we have weighed our sins as less that those surrounding us.

So where did these thoughts come from? He hung out with the hated, tax collectors and the sick. So where in our lives did we get this twisted view that we needed to be hanging out with people that were just like us? Growing up a christian environment choosing the right friend group became a topic that was brought up in school and at home. We were told we would end up like those we surrounded ourselves with. Don’t get me wrong it is important to have a close knit group of friends that you can lean on but God’s whole mission was focused on the outsiders and the broken. The people that we judge at school or work are the people God CHOSE TO INVEST IN. Why have we created this wall of good people verses bad and what made up the wall that divides us? Who decided what is good and what is bad?

“I’ll call nobodies and make them sombodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.” -Romans 9:20-33 (MSG)

The divider that was created I believe has something to do with pitying the internal problems and punishing the external problems. This concept was implanted into my brain in high school. The way the disciplinary system works those who are caught maybe smoking, or drinking are immediately dealt with and most likely suspended or even expelled depending on the issue. But maybe some girls who are struggling with self image issues are maybe helped through counseling or are dealt with in a very humble manner. How did I figure this conception out? Because I was that girl. Senior year I was the girl who hated the way she looked and didn’t like anything she saw in the mirror. The one who hated buying clothes because having to buy certain sizes just made me feel fat. I bought into the lie that I was still striving to be sinless in the broken world. God showed me once I arrived at school through friends and christian novels that if we were made in God’s image then I was just hating the creation that God made himself. I was just as much at fault with sin as anyone else. Throughout this experiance I became very humbled and through scripture I was able to find truth and see through the clouded vision I grew up with.

“Basically all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners.” -Romans 3: 9-20 (MSG)

I was just the same as everyone else. Who am I to start looking down on others for mistakes that they make when I was making plenty of them myself? This is not an easy concept to grasp and I didn’t enjoy coming to terms with this because it is hard. I wanted to believe I was a good person and didn’t make any mistakes but we all make mistakes guys, were human. We all fall short of the glory of God so why are we making scales of whose sin is greater? What would the world look like if we started hanging around those that maybe aren’t viewed as your “typical christian.” If these imaginary wall between two groups of people came crashing down. Maybe we would start focusing on grace instead of judgement. 

“But sin didn’t and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin verses grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the messiah, invites us into life – a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.” -Romans 5: 20-21 (MSG)

Our purpose on earth isn’t to judge and try to find good friends or maybe do a few good deeds. Our purpose is to spread the gospel to whomever, whenever. Maybe as a christian community(including myself) we should start focusing on our true purpose on earth and not get so rattled by weighing the sins of others and comparing everyone to each other. We shouldn’t be evaluating the mistakes we make but the hearts of the people. Some mistakes are “broadcasted more than others” so let’s start checking our own hearts before we go about checking others. This has been one of the hardest lessons and a big humility step for me. I know that I will always have to wake up every morning and decide I am going to try to live a christian life and every day, month, or year I will continue to learn new lessons about the ways of God. Sometimes I know I will fall short and make plenty of mistakes every day but knowing that God’s at the bottom with open arms and his love and grace to catch me if I fall makes the crash-landing a bit softer.

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