Once or twice during my travels with my friend Sam his perspective on certain topics made me so angry that I changed the subject and wondered why we were friends when we’re so obviously different (or so I’d like to think). I do not remember this, but Sam has reminded me that during our first semester of college I once exclaimed that he was a “narrow-minded a—hole.” And on our trip, I had similar sentiments during our discussions. The difference is that now I give more thought to why he is so judgmental and hung up on his narrow view of morality. And I pray for patience and understanding and kindness in responding to him because sometimes I just want to give him an earful of unproductive judgment in return to his statements. Ironic, I know.
On several occasions Sam shared some of his “high standards” for a prospective date, mentioning that he’d never date someone who has: ever gotten a DUI (even if it was 10 or 15 years ago), cheated on a significant other (even if it was in high school), as well as a litany of other offenses he has rendered unpardonable. Since Sam and I share the same basic faith, I think I was angrier than I would be otherwise; extend a little grace please!
And before I go on, I must admit that there was a time when (middle school) my perspective was much like Sam’s. I saw things in black and white and swore I’d never do a list of things and honestly believed I was “better” than those types of choices. Several experiences have helped me realize that things are not so simple as us moral arbitrators would like to make them. So by the time I was 16 or so, I realized that life was grayer, but I must admit that I still thought I was the sort of person who would not do certain things, i.e. cheating on a significant other, etc.
Fast forward twelve years and now I’m at a point where I realize that I am exactly the type of person who could cheat on someone or do any of the other things I thought I was incapable of doing. No, I have not actually cheated on anyone, but in college I drove drunk several times. I have lied and been selfish. So I have done things that I never thought I would, and I am glad I have because it’s knocked me down a few notches. It’s also reminded me that I must be vigilant in avoiding further transgressions. For example, someone like Sam who thinks he is incapable of infidelity will likely not be as careful in his actions as someone who realizes he’s quite susceptible to adultery.
Despite my knowledge that I’m capable of anything and completely fallen, I still constantly find myself sitting in judgment of others. “How can a parent think it’s OK to give their child fast food five times a week? If I had children, I’d never do that." And similar dialogue flow through my mind on a daily basis, reminding me that as much as I’d like to think I’m "above" the type of judgment I heard Sam spewing on our trip, I’m not.
So I’m that much more grateful that my salvation is not earned by my actions because I fall short every hour of the day. I am so glad Christ fulfilled the law for me. Tim Keller sums up my feelings more succinctly than I obviously can, saying that “I’m more wicked than I ever believed, and I’m more loved and accepted than I ever have imagined.”