“I have a friend to whom I go for Christian advice and lately she is going through something with her family and I don’t think she’s acting very ‘Christian’. It’s really bothering me. What should I do or say to her?”
When someone asks questions like this, my first thought is usually, “What version of ‘Christian’ are you comparing her to?”
I think that people need someone to look up to. They need someone who won’t let them down. The problem with that is that people will always let you down.
We can’t set people up that way. We put them on pedestals and are frustrated when they can’t balance that high.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. -Romans 7:15
People do the best they can and fight within themselves when they don’t measure up to their own standards. It’s suffocating to have to measure up to the foreign standards of others, too. It’s a fight of survival that has you completely focused on pleasing people and leaves no room for relying on the grace of Jesus to give them rest at night.
If people are honest in their relationship with you, then you will see the places that are imperfect. A good friend walks through the journey with them with enough grace to soften the blow of being a human. If you’re not a good friend, but only there for what you can get out of the relationship, then you will be a constant source of graceless judgment for them. You will never find a human being that can maintain the level of need that you are searching to fill. No human can do what only God can do.
Too often people will supplement their relationship with God with a relationship with a most-of-the-time Godly person. People will cling to pastors, pastors wives, or other recognized leaders and suck the life out of them as though these people were the Well of Living Water. Your church leaders are people. They cannot sustain you in the way that you need them to. You are pulling water out of a well that runs dry, gets contaminated, or loses the ability to pour out.
If you are getting your ‘food and drink’ from God, then you won’t be so desperate when people fail to measure up to your standards.
My heart breaks for people who are under the constant critical eye of the people they are trying to serve. If they want to maintain some distance so they can walk through their own bumpy life without the perpetual approving or disapproving comments from others, then they have to put on an Oscar winning performance every time they walk out in public. They’re in a no-win situation because people can tell that they’re holding back. The constant smile, constant positive attitude… it feels like a disillusioned, one-dimensional facade because, a lot of the time, it is.
This is why it’s hard to talk about your failures or questions in your church community. You can’t have perfect people and real people at the same time. Do you want a show or do you want a safe place to be vulnerable?
The people who would rather have a show are the most vocal and sometimes have the most influence. Grace and real life create too many questions and, for a place that is supposed to be the standard and have all the answers, that doesn’t go over very well.
This is the real battle. While all the people are fighting amongst themselves, the safe places are robbed of truth and rendered useless to people who are spiritually dying. It is not people that you’re up against. The people are distractions while the real attack is against faith. Nobody is fighting for the truth when they’re all fighting each other over practice.
The only truth worth fighting for is the Gospel of Jesus before Fear gets his hands on it. It’s the only truth because it’s the only thing that is finished. Everything else is in process and doesn’t look like it should.
Take your eyes off of people, they’re a mess at their best. Cynicism makes you twice as blind.