Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Loved Despite Wickedness

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.”


Pam said...

I echo your words when you talk about your progression in the way you view things now as opposed to the past. Like you, this is one thing that I constantly struggle with..judgement. I think it just tends to be easy to be critical of others in general, not that it necessarily makes it right.

Accidentally Me said...

I think you are being too hard on yourself. None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes! Making mental notes about things you see is unavoidable, and sometimes it is just plain right! People shouldn't feed their kids five times a week at McDonalds, how can you NOT think that?!?!

And I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about Sam. He is entitled to set whatever rules he wants to in judging people's worthiness to date, and he just has to live with the consequences of that. His loss.

e.b. said...

I spend a lot of time thinking about what is judgment and what is a value - say like feeding your child unhealhty food on a regular basis. And if I am imposing my values on someone else and thereby making a judgment about their life.

Leiselb said...

Wow. That last quote is beautiful- I'd never heard it before but I really like it. Thanks for sharing.

Oh I understand Sam, and you, and I think....the grace that sustains you where you are in your walk, is the same that sustains him in his high expectations of others. And that's why grace is what it is-- it's there whether we know and understand it or not.

Jeff Price said...

It's amazing how as children we can know pretty clearly what is right and what is wrong (obviously not on every issue), but then as adults our sin and the world helps us to justify some pretty poor decisions. I too speak from experience on that one.

It doesn't sound like Sam has been confronted with his own depravity and that is unfortunate. While you pray for patience in dealing with him, also pray that he will discover the need to view the gospel through the lens of a mirror. Because a mirror will reflect those areas that he needs grace and someday remind him of the need to couple God's rightousness with His love.

angel, jr. said...

I think that judgment changes as spiritual growth continues. I find myself more forgiving and I try to be more understanding as my relationship with Christ grows.

Anonymous said...

i think what you said about him thinking that he's not susceptible just makes him more susceptible. we all make mistakes and we all learn from them. those who sit in judgement, just keep repeating them.

Ryane said...

Good post. I think there is a difference, however, in recognizing that you won't cheat on a husband or significant other, and not letting your kids eat fast food 5 days a week. One is a moral imperative, one is just sanity!!

2xA+r0n said...

+1 to this post.

We all could be the poster-child for things we said we'd never do in our youth only to grow old and do those very things. We're all guilty of such transgressions, even against ourselves. (And that's not being judgemental, that's the truth!)

I believe my most favorite Tim Keller statement is his message on religion not being fair. I believe his point was that, if religion were fair, we would have die for our own sins than Jesus handling that burdeon for us.

Clearlykels said...

Amen, sister! Just because I don't think that I could do something doesn't mean that I won't. It is better to be on the lookout than have a holier than thou attitude.

Ally said...

Clearlykels: Exactly! A lot of times there are a lot of little steps between doing the right thing and the wrong thing.

Aaron: I think about how life isn't fair (from the opposite perspective of most people) all the time, and I think it keeps me grateful although admittedly not as much as I should be.

Ryane: I guess since I haven't had children I just can't understand the fast food thing...how can making a peanut butter sandwich and slicing an apple be THAT hard??:)

Kate: You've said exactly what I meant. By acknowledging that you're capable of something, you're more apt to have your guard against it.

Angel: I agree--the more I understand Christ's grace, the more able I am of (trying) to extend it to others.

Jeff Price: That is a good prayer too. Thank you. I've definitely struggled with knowing exactly how to pray for him.

Lieselb: I LOVE Keller quotes; glad you like it too.

e.b.: I find myself imposing my values on others (mentally) a lot.

AM: I think some of Sam's judgment is a defense mechanism....like I'll say I won't date you before you can reject me sort of deal. And you're right--it's his loss and likely one of the reasons I can count the number of dates he's been on on one or two hands.

Pam: It is sooo easy, but I suppose growth in that area is gradual and part of the journey.

Anonymous said...

Love the closing quote.

Grace is an awesome thing indeed.

ella w. said...

Perhaps this is why Sam is still single? (I hope he doesn't read this blog!)

Bethany said...

What an incredible blog! I struggle with judging others, too, and when I sit back and think about it, I realize I am no better. God's Grace is sufficient for all of us! How amazing! Love the Keller Quote, too. U RoCk, GiRL!!!

allbilly said...

I've always found religious people to be the most "judgmental" even if the bible has the whole "judge not lest ye be judged" verse.

We all have faults and the truth is noone really knows exactly what they would do until they are in a specific situation.

It's always the easiest to be the "Monday morning Quarterback"...it doesn't take much thought...

cdp said...

Okay so I'm late getting here. First of all, this post (as may others of yours) leads me to the realization that I write about some seriously self-centered and irrelevant nonsense on my blog.

I completely relate to what you've said here. There are so many things in my life I thought I'd never be, never see, never do. And I am my own harshest critic, so sometimes it's quite the struggle for me to deal with.

But, I believe that the Lord loves us not in spite of our faults, but including our faults.

My two cents -

Ally said...

cdp: The great thing about having so many faults is that it helps me remember how much I need God and how enormous His grace is.

allbilly: Yeah, I think the Monday morning quarterback is just a way to build ourselves up--"I wouldn't have made that mistake/choice/throw, etc."

Bethany: Absolutely--His grace is.

Ella: Perhaps. It would be hard to stand up under his scrutiny. And no, Sam doesn't, but I have discussed this with him.

Desiree: And I learn more and more every day about how awesome it is.

The Egg said...

You've summed up my views, sister! We're only human. After we make the falls and mistakes, it's a good time to learn and practice forgiveness. Especially forgiving oneself.

Leiselb said...

I laughed at Ella's comment....