In a recent post entitled “WHAM”, I shared how I felt when I found out that my former husband had been saying unkind things about me to his co-worker.
The co-worker was in sympathy with my ex and stated that it was no wonder that my ex had left me because I was some kind of religious fanatic! I mean, who could blame the guy for not wanting to live with a religious nut – right?
Those unkind, critical comments hurt me on so many different levels but I think the worst effect they had on me was to cause me to initially feel embarrassed and ashamed about my faith and then to question, judge and criticize how I live out my beliefs.
I am the first one to admit that I often make mistakes – in all areas of my life, including my faith walk. More often than not, I feel like the apostle Paul when he said:
Rom 7:15 And I have no clear knowledge of what I am doing, for that which I have a mind to do, I do not, but what I have hate for, that I do. (BBE)
I have a huge heart for my God. My greatest desire is that I live my life in such a way that it gives God the glory and that people are drawn to Him. So I feel very badly if somehow or other, my faith walk has turned people off and away.
I know that I don’t always get it right. I know that I have made mistakes. There have probably been many times when my words did not match my deeds. I know that there were and are times when that unfortunate “holier than thou” mentality comes to the surface.
My faith life is ongoing and ever changing. Sometimes I have walked in sincerety of my understanding but that understanding has been in error. As I continue to study the Word of God and pray for understanding and wisdom, the way that I live out that understanding also changes. Hopefully, I am moving forward “from glory to glory”, from “imperfect to putting on perfection” (Christ’s, not my own) but I know that I will still make mistakes and will continue to do so until Jesus comes to get me.
The desire of my heart is to be a “God-pleaser” but unfortunately I am also very much a “people pleaser”. I want everybody to like me. So it is very difficult and challenging for me when living my life of faith means that I may be turning people off and away, like my ex husband. I am embarrassed to think that somebody thinks that I am a religious fanatic. It causes me to examine and re-examine, analyze, criticize, accuse and judge myself. It causes me to have doubt and shame.
These are all gut reactions. But as I pray and meditate about the issue, God brings several truths to my mind:
I have an enemy who accuses me:
Rev 12:10 …. For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.
I will face persecution, even from family members, for my beliefs:
Mat 5:11 Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for My sake.
1Pe 4:14 If men say evil things of you because of the name of Christ, happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on you.
I am not to deny believing in Jesus Christ:
Mat 10:33 But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven.
This world is not my home so I may often feel out of place:
Heb 13:14 For here we have no fixed resting-place, (BBE)
That I am a work in progress:
1Co 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit.
That God understands where my weaknesses come from and He has mercy on me:
Psa 103:13,14 As a father pities his children, Jehovah pities those who fear Him. For He knows our form; He remembers that we are dust.
That God forgives me:
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
And most importantly, that God loves me, no matter what:
Joh 16:27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God.
Because God loves me, He sent His son Jesus to die for me. And because Jesus loves me, he took the punishment for my sins and died a terrible death in my place. So, for the sake of that incredible love, I will say what Paul said:
Php 3:8 … I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ
And I will gladly and proudly be considered “a Jesus freak”.
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
(Oh oh oh)
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
(Jesus Freak, DC Talk, 1995)