Sunday, April 12, 2009

Are You a Mannequin?

Think about all the Bible heroes and heroines. The men and women we hear about in Sunday School and at church as Christians who did God's will. Ruth, who decided to take care of her mother-in-law instead of running back to her family; David, who was God's chosen king; Solomon, who asked God for wisdom and was blessed with that plus everything else; Peter, whom God used to build His Church.... I could go for days.

But wait a minute - these people were not ideal role models. Adulterers, murderers, liars, deceivers, lawbreakers - these are the people we look to for models of Christian faith??

What a lot of non-Christians want to see is those people's mistakes. They had affairs with married women, slept with their family members, disowned Jesus, broke all the rules of custom, ran from their responsibilities, etc. How are we supposed to be "good" Christians if all we have (minus one) for examples are these sinners who a lot of the time seemed to only be living for themselves?

Obviously Jesus is the only perfect example we have to follow. All of the others in the Bible were simply human, like ourselves. They made mistakes - just like we do - that we should be able to learn from.

More than that, I believe there is a more general lesson to be taken from the stories of these great people's mistakes.

A lot of Christians worry about looking "good" - and not just physically. One thing I've heard from Christians and non-Christians alike is that a lot of Christians are just straight up fake. I've seen it myself. I've honestly done it, as well. We love to play this game, wear this facade that everything is okay because we love the Lord! Yes, we love the Lord - but everything is not always okay. You can raise your hands during worship at church all you want, but if the conviction is not there, if the faith and confession are not there, you're just waving your hand at the ceiling.

One time I was going through a really hard time in my life, and I was constantly in a depressed mood. A friend (who was struggling as well) told me, "If you act like you're okay long enough, eventually you will be." I didn't quite agree with it then, and I don't agree with it now. I am not saying that you should tell everyone you see your entire sob story; not everyone wants to hear it, trust me. I am saying that you should be honest about not always being at the top of your game. Everyone has bad days, everyone struggles with their faith at some point - it is okay. One day an acquaintance asked me how was I was doing as we walked towards each other on the sidewalk. I can't quite remember my answer, but it was something along the lines of, "Well, I've been better." She said, "I'm glad you were honest! Most people just say 'Fine' and move on!"

I strive to be a good role model, and fail quite often. I'm bound to mess up, but that does not mean I give up trying. Nor do I try to hide the fact that I do in fact fall. Jesus's message is about forgiveness, but so often we try to act like we don't even need it! His forgiveness doesn't just forgive what we did before we were Christians; it completely covers us after as well! Why do we keep missing that or try to cover it up?? Are we ashamed that we still need to be forgiven? When we try to act like we're perfect, we give others too much to live up to. If we want to reach others, why do we set ourselves so far apart? We're not helping fellow Christians by pretending to be perfect; those that are struggling are afraid to shatter their image enough to ask someone else for help.

Why do we have to look so good? Yes, we are called to follow Christ's example, but that does not mean hiding our indiscretions and praying no one finds out. The people in the Bible who tried to hide their mistakes were always revealed; they were always brought to judgement. Why do we think we won't meet the same fate? Those people were most of the time publicly confronted about their sins by prophets who were sent by God to show that no one is above reproach and no one is inaccessable to forgiveness.

God never asked us to "look" like we were doing His will. He actually practically asks us not to do that - yet we still try. We are saved by faith, not by anything we do, say, or think - and definitely not by how people see us. What are we living for if all we worry about is what someone else thinks of us? God calls us to live for His glory - not our own nor anyone else's.

Own your mistakes, learn from them and move on. Learn your weaknesses, work on strengthening them and ask for help. Confess your sins, know that everyone messes up and don't try to hide them. We are all human and shouldn't be expected to be anything other than less than perfect - that goes for you, too.

By the way, mannequins creep me out (see title above). I always hated that I could mistake them for real people, yet they weren't. It's unnatural. Literally.

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