Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 148, Isaiah 55:1-13, Galatians 5:16-24, Mark 9:2-13
Christians have an image problem. Like any other group in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, our most extreme and attention-grabbing brothers and sisters make the news and tell our story … whether we’d like them to or not. When a tiny church comprised of a handful of family members pickets military funerals to protest homosexuality, they make national headlines for years. A “family-values” politician caught in an affair becomes a media spectacle and fodder for those who would point out Christian hypocrisy. These types of public relations problems are not unique to Christians, or even religious groups. The public is fascinated with scandals, especially when they involve someone who has portrayed him- or herself as a “righteous” person.
Paul seems to draw distinct lines between the drunken, quarrelsome fornicators who will not inherit the kingdom of God, and the joyful, generous peacemakers who will. We want to heed his words: for good or ill, the behaviors he describes do have consequences in our lives and relationships with God and each other. As Christians we can feel pressure to appear as if we have all the good qualities and none of the bad. In reality, we have the same faults and foibles as everyone else, and when we pretend otherwise, people can practically smell the insincerity. Humbly acknowledging our own flaws doesn’t diminish our witness. To the contrary it tells the true story of grace: not that we become perfect, but that we accept God’s love despite our imperfections.
Acknowledging our flaws doesn’t mean we should settle for them. As we grow in our faith, our behaviors and attitudes will reflect that growth. When someone is thoroughly grounded in her or his faith, other struggling people – believers and non-believers alike – feel comfortable enough with that person to be truthful. To love like Christ loves, we must recognize a person’s brokenness without defining them by it. Let’s do our part to fix that image problem by showing the world following Christ means being humble and truthful. As Christ’s broken body heals the world, our broken and contrite hearts do also.
Comfort: God loves you broken, but doesn’t leave you broken.
Challenge: Resist the urge to make yourself look good. Instead try to be faithful.
Prayer: Thank you God for the love, forgiveness, and healing found in your grace. Amen.
Discussion: Common wisdom says we despise in others the flaws we struggle with ourselves. Do you find this to be true?
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