If it wasn't for other people, I could look at myself and think I'm doing really really well as far as following Jesus and walking in His righteousness . . .
But then there's the guy who cuts you off on the freeway, and your employee who stresses you, and your spouse who thinks that intimacy is a permit to be inconsiderate, and your kids who just won't do what you need them to do . . .
And all those people in my life reveal -- at least to them, if not to me -- that I am a long way from being the person that I would be if following Jesus was really "working".
But then, what is Jesus after in the process of discipleship in each of our lives? What would it look like if following Jesus was "working"? Would I glow with evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit and His agape love each moment? Would I never have any conflict with anyone, and never have any negative emotions? Would I walk through every crisis and pain with that "good attitude" that a friend recently complemented me on as I go through this situation with my house?
I don't think so. I think that Jesus is after that growing intimacy and growing dependence upon Him that I wrote about in my last post, and that the results of that growing intimacy and dependence will be a change of values and a change of perspective and a change of character, which are all shown in how I interact with all the people in my life and how I respond in all situations . . .
But I don't think Jesus is judging us that way we judge ourselves or the way we judge each other. I think He so fully understands the cause and effect of abiding in Him and righteousness in the rest of our lives that He is very focused on the cause side, just as a good hitting coach in baseball knows that the mechanics of a swing produce the hits, and works on developing the cause side, knowing that the result will be a higher batting average. (There is a difference here, though! Scripture seems to indicate that God is truly invested in the intimacy and dependence we develop with Him, and that the resulting change to our lives and actions -- although highly valued by Him -- are not as much the point as the relationship is. It is the relationship with Him that He created each one of us for.)
So this week, as I manage a new employee and deal with new contractors and subcontractors and live out of a hotel and manage a family that is totally out of sorts as they deal with being displaced from our home . . . I can watch the evidences emerge daily and hourly that I still need a Savior, and that I'm way far off from really looking like a follower of Jesus should look in all the details of my reactions and relationships . . . and I can turn back to Him, and accept His healing and forgiveness and love and reassurance, and His coaching for better results in my next 5 minutes. I do have the promise that over time and eternity, He will bring full reconciliation and full transformation to my character and my life! And, meanwhile, I can rejoice that the way He sees me today is the way He will see me then, because He knows that He is the One Who must bring that change, and that I am doing my part by just showing up for the relationship and hiding my face against His chest when it is all too much for me.
May you know that place of refuge and that word of total forgiveness and acceptance yourself, moment to moment.