A girl started talking to me about her faith the other day. She’s getting involved in youth leadership and was excited to tell me about her commitment to God and getting involved in changing lives.
She was sweet and excited. A really great person. But, because of what I’ve learned over the past four years, I know that being a great person is not what it’s about.
You don’t commit to God like you commit to working out or the way you would commit to a product you’re selling.
This girl wasn’t like that, but she did talk a lot and I never found a lot of real substance in what she was saying. I liked her, but I had to ask her some stuff so that I could dig out the substance.
I asked her if she ever distanced herself from a fellow Christian because of that Christian’s struggle with sin. Her answer was yes. In order to keep herself pure, she phased out the friends who were not in the same place as her. She didn’t think she was better, she just didn’t want them to affect her and her walk with Christ.
My stomach sunk. Since when can another person’s weakness taint you? Are you afraid of what people will think if you’re a friend of someone who is obviously not perfect? That may be too rhetorical. How about I rephrase. Are you afraid that the sins and failures of others will have an effect on your relationship with God? We behave as though they do.
Christians are not meant to lock themselves away with those who are just like them and only come out in teams dressed in matching clothes to recruit others to their strange warehouse. It’s a scary picture, almost like night of the living dead. Only they’re not zombies, they’re the perfume sales ladies from the mall. Run.
This girl wasn’t like that either. When I asked her to clarify the situation, she explained that she is on a newly discovered path to not being a pot smoker. Her friends still do and if she hangs out with them, she’ll do the very thing that God has asked her to stop doing.
I get it. I think she’s smart. I had another challenge for her, though… Does she think that God is upset about her friend smoking pot? Her answer was yes.
That’s where I come in.
I took her through a little mental journey to show her what her actions and beliefs look like when you step back from them.
“Let’s just say, hypothetically, that in my life there are three things that I have going on. One: I’m a pathological liar. Two: I am having sex with my boyfriend. Three: I smoke pot.
You have a weakness for pot and God is helping you let that go. Every time you smoke it, you get a little shock in your spirit and are unable to feel ‘okay’ about it. The more you experience your discomfort, the less you want to smoke until you’re finished with it for good. Now you want to help me.
You know that God has brought me a long way with my lying. Every time I told a lie, I’d get a sick feeling in my stomach and eventually I learned what made me lie and I started to change.
You don’t know that I am having sex with my boyfriend because I haven’t told you, but you do know about the pot. God is convicting me of sleeping with my boyfriend and I’m getting much, much better at avoiding the times when I’m not strong enough to say no.
You don’t know what God is doing in me. All you can see is what he hasn’t worked on yet. I’ve got my plate full and my heart right, but you are making me feel like something is wrong with my relationship with God. I trust you and respect you, so what you’re telling me is devastating. I’m starting to doubt my relationship with God.”
It’s one thing to avoid situations where you aren’t strong. However, we have to stop looking at the lives next to us and passing our judgment on their Christianity. Why aren’t you paying attention to what God is showing you about you? Is he not giving you little jolts in your spirit every once in a while? If not, then start freaking out. You’ve wandered off on your own, little lamb.