The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light. There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters,” but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh! say not so, thou who art walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of his children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.
– Charles Spurgeon (Morning and Evening)
One place Christians mess up when trying to love their neighbors is pretending that life as a believer is perfect. If you just give your life over to God then all your days from now until eternity will be filled with Nutella and Peanut Butter (replace these with your two favorite toppings and proceed).
Jesus is the only one that lived a perfect life and even he had to face some pretty harsh days. While we may have to face temptation from Satan, Jesus had to face Satan himself. While we may face persecution from the world for trying to live out our beliefs, Jesus was killed for actually living out those beliefs.
So if you’ve visited a church, or been invited to a Bible study and felt like you were less than adequate because everyone around you seemed holier than thou. I have news for you. They are fakers and liars.
We all wear masks, Christians and non-Christians alike. I mean, how many times has someone asked you how you are doing and you say “fine” “great” “fantastic” when really you are anything but fine, great, or fantastic. What would happen if you actually told that person how you were really feeling? Awkward.
We want to protect ourselves. We want to protect our pride. We want to hide our fears. We want to hide out hurts. We want to control how people view us. If I’m a Christian and my life is in the toilet, how am I supposed to convince you that by believing what I believe, your life will magically be made perfect?
I guess part of the problem is that anyone would think that they could convince anyone of anything. I can’t make you a Christian. There are no magic words I can say that would make you slap your forehead with the palm of your hand and say, “I’m such an idiot. You’re right. I’ve been a fool my entire life.”
Not that that doesn’t happen, but it hasn’t happened to me. Those who become believers do so because they are seeking God. They accept the gift of salvation because God has called them. They were lost sheep and God went to rescue them. And they allowed God to rescue them. They certainly don’t become believers because they walked out of a bar one night and saw a guy holding a sign saying that they will burn in hell because they drank alcohol, or because they are a homosexual (Note: neither of those are true).
But no one is going to go seeking God if they look at us as Christians and see that we are living lies. We say we love you, but do we really? We say we are there for you, but are we really? We say that God has truly changed us, but have we really allowed that change to take place? It’s not like God’s not trying to change us, it’s that we aren’t allowing him to do so.
In short, your Christian friend is just as messed up as you are.
So when we walk around pretending life is beautiful because we are saved; that we are perfect and everyone else can suck it. We are actually pushing people away. It’s only when we accept the fact that we have issues still do deal with, even when we are chasing after a relationship with God that we can truly be an example of what a Christian is. It is only when we let go of our hurts, and give them over to God that we can life a life filled with joy. That doesn’t mean all our troubles disappear. It just means we finally allowed God to help us deal with them.
In my experience, life got harder after I allowed God into it. When I started trying to live for God, I ran into much more opposition. When I started trying to follow the things I was learning, I got hit with more temptation. When I started trying to share my beliefs with other people, I hit road blocks I had never encountered before. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to go back to how I was; flying under the radar, not making any waves, and whatever other cliches you want to through in here. But then I remember this quote I heard somewhere, “when you walk in the same direction as the adversary, you aren’t likely to run into him.”
Or something like that.
I expect to face opposition, temptation, and road blocks. And I can’t honestly say I look forward to it, but at least I know that when I do, it means I am a threat to Satan’s plan. And it is only by faith that I can overcome him, because if I have learned anything as a believer, it is that we do not have the strength on our own to deal with what Satan comes at us with. It is only through God that we can do anything good.
But sometimes I fail. And with failure comes hurt.
I’m hurting. We are hurting. Everyone is hurting in some way. Satan is using our fear of our hurt being revealed to keep us locked up in our own little cage filled with self-pity, fear of embarrassment, the perception that we are weak, and old shredded up teeny-bopper magazines.
No one is perfect. Not one. Don’t let anyone fool you. Believer! Recognize when you come across those people who act as if they have it all together that they are suffering. These are people that need love just as much as those who are willing to admit their pain. They might play it off as no big deal. They might try to push you away. They need you. God put them in your path for a reason. God didn’t call us to only love those who admit they are in pain. He called us to love our neighbors…all of our neighbors.
John 16:33 (NLT)
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Are you willing to admit your pain? More importantly, are you willing to let go of your hurts?