In a perfect world, relationships should come with an investment guarantee: This person will not break your heart, offend you, manipulate you, or neglect you.
Sometimes, I feel like a spiritual black sheep when it comes to relationships, rather than a white fluffy-puff of goodness. Girlfriends can be hard to bear when estrogen levels drop, relatives can be exhausting, and my patience can run thin with clueless customer service clerks. My consolation is knowing a sheep is better than a goat—at least from a Biblical perspective.
Since I avoid self-condemnation, like most Christians, I repent and consider who I am in Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Galatians 2:20 New American Standard Bible
I wasn’t sure why my intent veered away—until recently.
My mornings typically start with soft worship music. My tea kettle perks with bubbling water for my cup of green tea. I pair it with a light breakfast, and read a devotional. Sunshine prompts me to lace up my walking shoes, while my dog, Charly, wags his tail in anticipation for our morning walk. Life is good—fluffy-puff of goodness. But on the trail, a neighbor’s yappy dog leaps at Charly to nip his leg. Suddenly, I slip into a gnarly black sheep. Baaah!
After a few glares and a snarky remark, I hear God’s gentle intervention. Immediately, conviction follows. Thank you Lord for your intervention, but can we work on prevention? I desperately wanted my reactions to reflect Godly responses.
As I thought about Galatians 2:20, a thought crossed my mind. Okay Lord, if I know who I am, I should know who I’m not.
The question gave me something to ponder; Christians are not (blank) ! I needed to identify these “non Christian” ideas that were so tiring and caused me to lose my equanimity.
Letting go of our Christian angst to find our happy calm was the answer. I listed my common repeated snares and hoped it would help others find their happy calm, too!
1. Christians are Not in Control
Hands off! (Just a little self-talk) I think control can be the dark side of leadership. When we try to control people, we patrol people. That’s exhausting—for everyone. Like Jesus, leaders are servants and not micromanagers for God.
2. Christians are Not the Holy Spirit
This can be challenging when it comes to family. We love them so much, we want to fix them, but we’re not the Holy Spirit. We can’t force spiritual growth, but we can offer prayers, patience, and unconditional love.
3. Christians are Not Perfect
In the same way we’re not perfect, people aren’t perfect—especially Christians. Expecting flawless church relationships will disappoint us every time. We can, however, expect reconciliation, restoration and lots of rejoicing.
4. Christians are Not Problem Free
God didn’t bubble wrap believers in this imperfect world. Perhaps it’s because tension refines and perfects our faith. Although hardship is part of life, we’ll never face it alone. God will lead us, and carry us, to His abundant peace.
5. Christians are Not Spectators
This means we’re going to interact with people, and that can get messy. Why should we be surprised? We get involved, we care, we love, and we sometimes get hurt. But consider the rewards; seeds are planted, people are touched, and lives are changed.
Sometimes we don’t realize we’re conforming to who we’re not, instead of becoming who we are. Letting go of our Christian angst means we will continue to grow in faith, but when faith wanes, there’s grace for the humble and mercy when we stumble.
When I read Galatians 2:20 the words “live by faith” stands out. It reminds me God is Supreme, and He deeply loves us. He is changing our hearts and renewing our thinking day by day, hour by hour. We can live in the ebb and flow of life by knowing who we are in Christ—and knowing who we’re not.
Challenge: How would you complete this question: Christians are not (blank) ! Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Have a blessed weekend.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). . LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.