As Christians we are called to a lofty standard. We are supposed to love our enemies (Matt 5:44), our neighbours (Mark 12:30-31), disciples should be known by the love they have for one another (John 13:34)… It really is a whole lotta love smorgasbord. Anyways, for a person like me, who wasn’t naturally in the wheelhouse of overwhelmingly positive feelings towards my fellow human beings, I found at times this concept beyond common sense and contrary to every fiber within me.

Yes, being a pastor, I wouldn’t say this was to my advantage. 🙂 I can’t qualify this statement with Biblical data to support it but I believe God has a sense of humour and that’s why through His grace He has allowed me to work for Him. At first I really didn’t want to have love for people that were outside my family/friends circle, at the same time I wanted to follow what I read in scripture. So I slowly started trying it, I really incorporated “fake it till you make it,” a little smile there, small talk with people, in a sense I was faking it, as awful as that might sound. I had no other choice, what was the alternative, not try? Never.

What happened surprised me, as time passed my default viewpoint started to shift. When someone wronged me or hurt me, I didn’t default to anger or some other knee jerk reaction. I tried to put myself in their shoes and I wanted to respond in a way that I would like other people to respond to me when I’m not having my finest hour (Luke 6:31). Yes, I’m a work in progress as we all are. I do wonder how this process works though. When we accept Christ into our lives and start this journey of sanctification, we are slowly changed into Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). Some slower than others (me) haha, but as I started to pray more, read more scripture, I started to change, as if my character, my essence was taking baby steps towards something better, something foreign. My old identity that had given me this fake sense of security was being stripped away and was on full display for my eyes only.

Then I wasn’t faking it anymore.

It started with “fake it till you make it.” I did it out of obedience, not because I felt like it. I do think God honoured that because I sincerely wanted to change and grow in Him. The point is, if we truly want to grow in Christlikeness we should pay more attention to what the Bible says about our interaction with one another and try our best to fulfill what scripture asks of us.

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22

Some days it’s hard to follow what the Bible commands. When I fail, I get back up and try again. We all fail, that’s why it’s so important to have a solid community around us that can help and support as we run this race corporately.

Some days you fall hard, other days are glorious, but getting good at something is all about repetition.
Banana man

Banana man

A friend sent me a link to a good documentary called The Fool. What I liked about it was observing how God can use things we perceive as failure and mistakes work towards spreading the gospel message and personal growth. If you watch the movie, you see that on more than one occasion Ray could have given up and said it’s too hard. The circumstance he found himself in would make most of us at least ask the question, God, should I be doing something else? Did I fail? We need to engage in self analysis but there is a fine line between self analysis and self loathing. Maybe it’s a big wide line for other people but often what started as “I could stand to lose a few pounds” turns into “I’m a glutton that has no self control and I’m clearly obese, hence why even try, I suck!”

Clearly some people aren’t like me, which is good, but I think it’s a slippery slope for many. I believe God illuminates certain areas of our life that need work, when that illumination happens, we have the power to choose how we react. Do we flip the illumination that was meant for good into self loathing and apathy? Can we look at our past and see a pattern concerning whatever the issue might be? Do we often or always react in the same manner when our spouse or friend brings up a certain issue with us? Do we get defensive and justify our reaction and our choices? At times that might be warranted but I can only share from my experience and I’m pretty sure that over 90% of the time people spoke the truth to me. The delivery of that truth might have been lacking, often I dismissed the truth in the message because it was delivered with anger, bitterness, or some other concoction of feelings.

When we speak to others, our statements might be truthful, yet truth can be cloaked underneath layers of animosity and therefore have a reverse effect and perhaps be an impetus for future behaviour that’s contrary to the change we want to see.

If we rewind back to the beginning of this post, faith stretching seasons are often just that, seasons that Christ uses to refine, teach, mould and sometimes we are broken so He can rebuild us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (or sound judgement). 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB).