Have you ever felt like you were a terrible Christian?
I was sitting in a small group last week when a friend of mine spoke up, “I’m just honestly bad at being a Christian these days.”
I laughed louder than I meant to because she was reflecting the scarlet letter that felt like it was burning its way through my chest.
I feel like a bad Christian, and it seems that there’s a different reason to match each day of the week.
On Monday, I’m a bad Christian because I’m focused on work and writing and wedding planning and going to the gym instead of on God. A good Christian would know better.
On Tuesday, it’s my lack of Sabbath. I have no margin in my life – no space to be and breathe and soak God in the way I used to.
On Wednesday it’s a lack of faith. A good Christian wouldn’t worry about the things I worry about. A good Christian wouldn’t spend a second fretting over their bank account or wedding plans. They’d know God was going to provide.
On Thursday, I’m selfish. It’s all about me. I’m working and living for my glory and my benefit instead of God’s.
On Friday, I’m too religious. I am reading my bible out of duty, thinking that if I do A and B and C that God will love me and this nagging feeling of disappointing him will go away for good. But a good Christian knows better than to be religious. After all, it’s not about religion but relationship.
Don’t even get me started on Saturday and Sunday.
I just cannot get it right.
Have you ever felt this way?
The crazy part is, while I’m no Paul, these days my religious resume is pretty stacked.
I’ve traveled the world for God. I’ve slept in the craziest places, gone to the darkest places, and preached to people who have never ever heard the word of God.
Let’s be real — I work for a missions organization.
You’d think I’d be pretty good at this Christianity thing by now.
But the truth is, I’m not.
I’m not good at it. I fall miles short of my own standards and I shutter to think how far short I fall of God’s standards.
I look at my actions and my life sometimes and shake my head with disgust knowing that I should know better.
I know better than to think I can do life on my own. I know better than to think that my energy and willpower and passion are enough to fuel the things I want to do in the world.
I know better than to think I can get away with weeks without intentional time spent with God.
I know better than to pack every single moment full of to-do’s. I know that makes for exhaustion and not the full life I know is waiting for me when I do things God’s way. I know that I need to be resting.
I know better than to find fault with everything around me and within me. I know that gratitude is my life-blood, turning every single moment into an act of worship. Yet my life is distinctly gratitude-less.
I should know better, and I do know better. But sometimes my actions don’t reflect what I know is best.
And when I’m in the throws of that realization, it’s hard to look God in the eye.
It’s hard to come to him with my head held high. It’s hard to feel like I’m his daughter and not a colossal disappointment.
That’s how I showed up to work this morning. I walked into our Monday morning worship service (which of course we have because I work at a missions organization). But instead of participating like a good Christian, I hung back.
And as I stood in the back feeling small and not good enough, I remembered something that seems to escape me constantly.
God loves us. He just does. It’s that plain, it’s that simple. And that’s why he sent Jesus.
It’s not by being perfect that we’re saved, but by believing that Jesus and the grace he died to give us is bigger than any mess we could ever create: past, present, or future. It’s by faith and not by works.
So if you are feeling like a mess of a Christian today, lets do this together.
Let’s remember that God loves us. Not because we’re perfect, but because he is.
Have you ever felt like a terrible Christian? What do you do to remind yourself of what’s true?
Photo credit: So Worth Loving