Mind the Gap: All Christians Are Not Created Equal
The cell was rank with the acrid stench of urine; a searing spear of blinding torment pierced both temples. Bile rocketed up his throat as he swallowed hard to force it back down. A single tear escaped the corner of his eye; he swiftly wiped it into his hairline. Head down, facing the concrete floor, he silently mouthed, “God, I need you….please help me….please save me….”
She bit the side of her cheek as she thought through what she should do. The goldfish in her belly plunged and soared as an audience went wild in the splash zone. She hadn’t expected to feel nervous. Or afraid. She could hear the dull drone of the mower which meant her daddy was home now. Mom was wiping up a glob of butter from the kitchen floor as she entered. She would just blurt it; that’s what she would do. Ready…ready…set….ready………..”MamaIjustaskedJesusintomyheart.”
Why am I crying? Why the hell am I crying? Oh my God, I’m sorry. I’m cussing in church, I’m crying, I’m standing up and all of these people are looking at me. God, I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry for all that I’ve ever done. These people don’t know what I’ve done. They have no idea, God, but I don’t want to live this way anymore. I want to be different, God. Please help me be different….please forgive me…..I am so sorry, God…..I want to follow you……I want to do better…….I want to be better…….I want to be a good person…..
Are all three equally in right relationship with God? I say yes. Are all three completely forgiven? Yes again. Going to heaven? Yep. According to Scripture, are all three new? Yes. Second Corinthians 5:17 says so. Do all three still retain unhealed wounds at this transaction? Sadly, yes.
Because new doesn’t mean whole.
New doesn’t mean well.
And new doesn’t mean healed.
In my brain, it’s kind of like a heart transplant. At the conclusion of the surgery, the patient has a new heart. No one disputes that. And this gives him life when death had been his prognosis. But as they wheel him from the OR, is he whole again? Well, healed, and ready to grab dinner with the fam? No. There’s a grueling road ahead. And a lifetime of anti-rejection meds. The threat of the immune system attacking the new organ will require constant watchfulness. Forever.
So. Can we, as the Church, just acknowledge this to folks new to the faith?
Hey, you got a new heart and with that comes new life, but there also may be a grueling road ahead. A lifetime of anti-rejection efforts. Those hurts you brought into this…….they still hurt. That sexual abuse, that addiction, that divorce, that loss, that abortion – those things still hurt even after you begin a relationship with Jesus. Even when they aren’t inflamed and raw to the touch, they’ll still be weak places until they are healed in every way and in every realm of personhood: emotionally, relationally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Jesus is completely able to heal you, but it’s going to require hard work on your part. And until those places are healed, they’re like land mines that may go unnoticed…even by you. Unnoticed while you lift your hands in worship. Unnoticed while you dress for church. Unnoticed when you pass the offering basket. Unnoticed when you pack the family into the minivan for Sunday lunch. Unnoticed…until your faith fails and you have an enemy that knows all the right buttons to push.
Can we just look eye-to-eye with a new believer and with the grace and compassion of Jesus admit, “The hurts still hurt, and they can’t go unattended”? So folks new to faith don’t feel like failures when the old crap isn’t gone. So they don’t give up on Jesus because they think He didn’t work. Or give up on themselves as Christians because they think they can’t do it.
Can we stop dumping everybody into the saved bucket and stop acting like everybody’s equal once they meet Jesus? We are equal recipients of grace and salvation, but our journeys with Jesus are more affected by what happened BEFORE we met Him than we are acknowledging.
- Annually, more than 100,000 US parents experience the death of a child.
- 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce.
- 27% of children live in single parent homes.
- 18% of US women have been raped during their lifetime.
- Approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
People are bringing a lot of garbage to their relationship with Jesus; this paltry list is but a thumbnail of the comprehensive hurt around us. Is Jesus able to heal? YES! No one believes that more than I do. But, can we as believers stop using the Parable of the Sower to tell hurting people to just be good dirt? When believers lose against their former battles, can we stop watching them walk out the back door and stop labeling them as uncommitted? Maybe today – at this point in society and at this time in history – the whole idea of loving our neighbors as ourselves means helping them remove some thorns and weeds. Getting dirty. Speaking Truth. And administering a lil’ anti-rejection meds…[feature image: raghavvidya]