In December of 2007, I carefully and gut-wrenchingly (notice the lack of prayerfully) thought of two ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ for 2008:
1) I would take a multi vitamin and dose of fish oil daily, and
2) I would give up cussing at other drivers on my I-5/WSR 520/I-405 commute.
I believe I made it through January 3rd and 9th, respectively, until those resolutions became unresolved.
When it came up to 2009, I wised up… not because I became smarter. Nope… I still wanted to finish up those Buy One Get One Free NatureMade fish oil supplement bottles I had bought nearly 12 months prior. The Holy Spirit had a different idea. Why not pick a Bible verse to commit to memory during the year and actually try to live it out? I thought that was pretty sweet so I flipped through my Bible and picked a section of scripture that had caught my eye over the last few months – Romans 12/ 9-12:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Ok, ok… I’ll admit I had to put my head between my knees to remember the word ‘faithful’ above. And I had to double-check the actual translation. So yes, that means it’s September 13, 2009, 254 days later and I haven’t even successfully completed part one of my non-resolution. I’m going to keep on trying though because I knew when I was asked to try this out that I wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly.
Since becoming a Christian, I have had the great privilege of getting to talk to family members, friends, co-workers, and strangers about their spiritual life. Because I’m a WASP (see definition in my first post below), most of the people I’ve talked to grew up going to a Christian church and found it to be full of a lot of hypocrites: people who preached the beatitudes to anyone who would listen (or was in range to hear them) and then wouldn’t tip at Denny’s at their post-service breakfast. As such, it didn’t seem very conducive or profitable to most to try to stay awake through a service that was too long and too boring. I got that – even though the church that I went to as a child had a fascinating pastor and I never went to Denny’s for a post-service Grand Slam.
As people, we desire sincere relationships. We crave sharing life with people who are honest, warm, and love us. Therefore, when we go to a place where people who are claiming to worship a loving God who is generous, kind, and wonderful in every way and see people we know are closet alcoholics, not-so-private racists, and girls who can’t memorize three verses of scripture in 254 days, it can be disheartening. But this is Christ’s church. Excuse me, this is Christ’s church on earth.
Until Jesus comes back and restores things to be as He originally intended, we’re a bunch of ragamuffins who are hanging on in prayer and faith that He’s working in us. It’s His strength that straightens us out and His gracious arms that cradle us when we squirm out of His embrace and crash and burn (it’s inevitable). For those who are reading this and can attest to experiencing the imperfection of the people who comprise Jesus’ church on earth, I apologize for our disobedience. We know better. We’ve experienced better. We can do better. Which is why it’s about time I put Romans 12 into action. Better late than never.