A few years ago I stumbled upon an online quiz that was designed to tell what religious mindset I have. It ranged from liberal to Quaker or Puritan (whichever the quiz deemed more extreme, I forget), with a lot of in-between “levels”. I don’t remember specific questions, but they were geared around what I think is sin and that sort of thing. I was entertaining my curiosity.
The results surprised me. I was the most extreme. Not at all liberal. The essence is there are many ways to get it wrong. A difference exists between living in fear of sin and living in the freedom of grace. I’m not afraid. I know that I’ll make mistakes, but I see it as a part of life. Learning, growing, and becoming.
I’m also not afraid of someone else’s sin. I don’t feel the need to jump all over them when they’re wobbling in morality. It’s how people learn. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the ability for them to be guided by it. God doesn’t panic or fly into a tirade over our failures. We shouldn’t either. Patience made possible by faith that the grace of Jesus will not exclude anyone, no matter how numerous or damaging their failures.
When a child is learning to walk, they fall down repeatedly. The job of the parent is to soften edges and remove obstacles so they can fall with as little physical damage as possible. When you’re teaching a child to ride a bike, you move your cars out of your driveway and set up a clear path for them to follow. If they run into the curb, twist their handle bars wrong, or fail to look where they’re going, they’ll learn not do those things by doing them. Next time, they’ll pay attention to what made them fall before. Those who know how to walk or ride a bike stand by and wait to pick the child up and encourage them to get back up and keep practicing.
That’s how we should be with each other. Falling down is not the danger, giving up is. Each time they get back up, they can go a little further the next time. It doesn’t take long before they can go a great distance without a catastrophe. We still fall. Scraped knees and broken arms are evidence of a person, adults included, who isn’t afraid to travel the rough terrain of life. The ways to get it wrong are plenty, but being afraid of them stunts your growth.
God continues to test us because it grows us. There is a method to the madness. He’s challenging you to make you stronger. We depend on His purpose and grace, not on our ability to not fall. Keep at it. Don’t let the pain of falling keep you from getting back up and trying again. Once you conquer this set of challenges, you’ll be on to the next. ..falling and growing, falling and growing… All for the purpose of becoming.