I used to be an overly hypocritical person, so it didn’t take much for me to call out the flaws in others while disregarding my own blemishes. Then one day, I walked into the doors of a church who voiced an extraordinary motto: “No perfect people allowed”. They recognized that everyone is a sinner and that everyone falls short of the glory of God. Everyone, even Christians. As I started to change my own faults, I began to see the distance that was put between me & God because of the negative attitudes I’d harbored toward others. Jesus taught love, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance. Even though I’d been considering myself a Christian for years, I was anything but those things! I was constantly judging how other people lived their lives poorly, ignoring my own deep-rooted issues, and I’d become the one group of people who could righteously anger Jesus…I’d become a Pharisee.
Thankfully I planted myself in a loving church family, filled with people who helped me focus on a different way to live my life. In doing so, I’ve started looking at people differently. That guy on the corner with the ‘HUNGRY’ sign has a story. So does the mother at the store with the irate child, the rude waiter at the diner, the entitled driver at the intersection, the intimidating bully, the depressed divorcé at the bar. They all have a story and the majority of the time, we don’t know those stories. We enter a world filled with strangers and often times, I believe that God puts certain people in our paths just to see how we’ll handle the encounter.
Even though I’ve seen the error of my old ways, I’d be lying if I said it was all butterflies and sunshine. It’s still hard to deal with certain people in my life, so I pray about it…a lot! I also vent to my husband, when I feel like I can’t hear God…but unless good will come of my voice projecting into the world, I keep it private. I’m a representative of Jesus and in taking on that job, I cannot represent Him poorly. I’ve learned that, as a Christian, my words matter. They matter to those around me who are lost, who are seeking, even to those who are found. I should be filling others with encouragement, love, joy, and peace. Do I still have bad days? Absolutely! Life is hard, and it can get to us, but I try harder than ever to not be who I once was.
Honestly, I’ve see enough status updates from Christians judging the sinners around them. When we ‘righteously’ stand, just like a Pharisee, and point judgemental fingers at the rest of the world, we are not calling good attention to Jesus. It was poor fisherman and tax collectors in His discipleship. He ate and drank with prostitutes, adulterers, liars and cheats. He didn’t come here for those who think themselves righteous, he came for those who know they are sinners.
If you plan to perch on a soapbox, holding a megaphone for God, you need to realize and accept that there are no perfect people in this world. Not me, not you, not family, not friends, not even pastors. No matter what the story is, you cannot judge someone else because they sin differently than you. Instead of judgement, we need to extend compassion and grace. It’s alright to pray, to ask for God’s help in their lives, but while you’re on your knees for them, be on your knees for you too. If you’re going to be a Christian, be a true Christian; a mistake-making, forgiveness-giving, all-loving and fully-accepting follower of Jesus…Otherwise you’re just a Pharisee.