I do. I know that sounds bad…very bad…but I do. I absolutely hate it.
I know what you’re thinking. “Why do you hate it? There are so many wonderful things about being a Christian! You get that personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of God that guides you and helps you do the right things and reminds you of what you have read in the Bible and what God has taught you.”
And you’ve hit the nail on the head. THAT is why I hate being a Christian.
Recently, I started getting back into the Bible. I started praying more, studying what God has to say about certain situations and meditating on His laws. And I’ve found myself in situations with friends and co-workers and just life in general that have caused the Holy Spirit to nudge me in a certain direction.
And every time I get in these situations, I feel the battle. I don’t know about you guys, but when I feel the struggle between what my flesh wants to do and what the Spirit of God tells me I should do. I find myself reasoning with Him, trying to justify my human reaction, trying to make it seem like what I want to do is better in the long run than what I have to do (have to as in what the Biblical, disciple of Jesus should do).
For instance, I recently had a friend lie to me. Not a big deal, I know. Except I trust this friend. I would trust this friend with my life if I had to. Even though they’re not a Christian, I still trust them. And they lied to me.
Not only did they lie to me, but they lied right to my face and in the next minute…not even a minute, more like 10 seconds…they live out the exact opposite of the lie. And it infuriated me. I wanted to call them out on it right then and there.
Shoosh (my new word, btw), I almost did. I actually pulled a Nathan (you know, the prophet that confronted David for his adultery with Bathsheba [2 Samuel 12:1-14]) in conversation with them one day to see how they would react to a story of someone doing the exact same thing. Not as successful as Nathan’s confrontation.
Anyway, I was mad, to say the least. I thought, “How could they do this? How could they lie right to my face and blatantly forget the fact that they lied about it in the next 10 seconds? I trusted them.”
I still do trust them. And here’s why:
For the next few days, I kept reasoning as to why I should end the friendship right then and there. Just drop it and walk away. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was weird, because they truthfully deserve that treatment…by human standards.
Sunday night, while I was working, the theme of forgiveness kept running through my head, particularly one passage:
“Then Peter came up and said to him (Jesus), ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'” (Matthew 18:21-22)
Did you see that? Seventy-seven times. Some translations read seventy times seven times. That’s 490 times!
Here’s the idea: no matter how many times a friend, a family member, a loved one, your spouse, your church leader or whoever sins against you, you should forgive them. But don’t keep count. That’s not the point Jesus is making with that statement (because I mean, really, who’s going to keep track up of how often someone sins against them, especially if you’re counting up to 490? You’d lose count). The point is, it doesn’t matter how often someone sins against you. You should always forgive them.
And that’s what Jesus was pushing me toward the past few days. “It doesn’t matter if this person hurt you. Forgive them. They’ve hurt you before and you forgave them. They’re going to hurt you again. That’s just the way they are. They’re only human, just like you. Forgive them.”
The parable Jesus tells about forgiveness should cause us to reconsider holding grudges against people for the hurts they have caused us.
I’ll paraphrase it, but if you want the whole story, check out Matthew 18:23-35.
There was a king who decided to settle debts with people and one guy owed him around 1 million dollars. When the guy said he didn’t have the money, the king was going to sell him and his family and everything he owned to make up the payment. But the guy begged for mercy and more time to get the money. What did the king do? He actually erased the debt! Completely cancelled. No money owed. Forgiven.
But the guy went out and found one of his friends, who owed him a few bucks, probably around $20, and demanded repayment. Well, his friend didn’t have the money, so the guy had him thrown in jail until he could pay him back.
Now, wait a second! This guy was just cleared of a $1 million debt and then goes and throws his buddy in jail over a few bucks! That’s not right! He should have been more merciful, since he was shown so much mercy!
The king thought so too. When he found out what happened, he confronted the man and told him just that. So the king had this guy thrown in jail until he could pay back his $1 million.
Here’s the point of the story: God, in His great mercy, has forgiven us the huge debt we owe him due to our sins. Jesus came along and paid the whole thing in full with His life. And here we are holding grudges against people who committed such little sins as lying and stealing. That doesn’t make sense. But it’s what we do.
So, here’s Jesus saying to me, “I forgave you for all the stupid things you did and here you are refusing to forgive your friend for lying to you. How does this make sense?” It doesn’t. So, I forgave them. They’re still my friend. I don’t think they realize they sinned against, me, and that’s okay. I still love them and pray for them, and I pray daily for their salvation.
Getting back to my earlier point: I hate being a Christian. I hate that internal struggle between my sinful man and the Spirit of God. It’s nerve-racking.
But, here’s what I love about being a Christian: everything. The peace, the love, the joy and the freedom is too much for words. I stand in awe of His mercy and at the sheer fact that He has cancelled the debt I owed Him. And I stand in awe of the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross on Calvary.
I hope this doesn’t deter anyone from following Jesus, because once you get deep into Him and have that fellowship, there is nothing greater, nothing more amazing, than that relationship with the Most High God.
Let Him dream for you.