Ever think about what divides us? I mean, divides us as people. I'm sure when God created our earth and created people he had visions of us all living in harmony and loving each other, caring for each other, looking out for each other. But, that isn't how it is. More often than we care to admit we do nothing but tear each other down. What is it about us as humans that causes us to do this? We make assumptions about each other and criticize each other. We talk about other people behind their backs. We even say mean things directly to each other at times. We do things to purposely hurt people- either out in the open, or in a manipulative manner.
As Christians, are we to hold ourselves to a higher standard? Are we to hold each other to a higher standard?
There is often more division within the church than outside. Much of this division is from the same problems, but in a different way. What seems like a good idea- hold each other to a higher standard for Christ- can cause division when one see's the meaning of that differently than another.
We can get so caught up in holding ourselves to a higher standard that we become prideful, and look down on others-either for their lack of Christianity, or their way of life as a Christian.
This is dangerous ground.
How often have I heard people say things like, "they say they are a Christian, but they don't act like it, so I don't believe they really are..." That is a horrible thing to say. Being a Christian isn't about how you act.... That's works based thinking! It's about heart change. And when change happens in the heart it will have outward expressions that are different in each of us.
Romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". (NIV)
I want you to notice the second word- ALL.
The NLT version says this: "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard."
If you look up several different translations not one will say "for everyone except [insert your name here]
I watched a movie last night called "To Save a Life". It's about a kid who commits suicide and his friend who is left behind to figure out life afterwards. Throughout the movie we see him wrestle with faith, and ultimately join a youth group at a church and become a Christian. But the movie does a really really good job of hitting the point that often times Christians can seem so judgemental, not just of others who aren't Christian, but also of each other, that people want to stay out of church.
As Christians, our primary focus should be to bring people to Christ. And the way to do that is to show them that they're missing something great. How do you do that? By loving them. Jesus didn't surround himself with the righteous... he surrounded himself with sinners and loved them. He didn't Bible Beat them... He loved them. He didn't judge them... He loved them. He didn't talk bad about them.... He loved them...... He didn't try to change them..... He loved them.....
And... they changed because they loved Him...
Listen... My relationship with you is different than my relationship with the next person... Why should it be any different with God? He made us all unique and He is an Infinite God who is capable of having a different relationship with each one of us!
So I want you to do something for me: Reread Romans 3:23. But this time replace "all" with "I"..
"For I have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God".
"For I have sinned. I fall short of God's Glorious Standard." Daily.
Sin is sin is sin is sin. My sin is no cleaner than yours. God does not see adultery as any worse than gluttony. Or white lies as "less of a sin" than murder. Sin is sin. We are all tax collectors. Every. One. Of. Us. It's only by the Grace of God that we are saved. Through Jesus, and our own personal relationship with Him.
My relationship with Christ is different than yours. I'm in a different place. I'm a different person. It's ok. God made us unique so we could have a unique and personal relationship with Him that only exists between He and I.
Some Christians believe you shouldn't watch certain TV shows... some believe you shouldn't watch TV period. Some believe you can watch Freddy Krueger every day... Some dance before the Lord, some don't think dancing is appropriate at all. Some wear hats to church, others practice headcovering, others wear nothing. Some drink alcohol, some believe you shouldn't drink alcohol. Some practice Modesty, some wear next to nothing. Some show up to church in their Sunday Best every week, others show up in their PJ's.
However you present yourself and your life to the Lord, rejoice in it. He loves you. Not for who you are going to become, not for what you do or haven't done, but because He made you. And he loves your neighbor- the one you're judging- just as much as he loves you :)