I read the devotional Our Daily Bread every day. My church gives them out. Some of the daily devotions really speak to me. Some of them, not so much. The one yesterday really spoke to me.
The author told the story of when he was running into a friend’s house to flee from bees, and he inadvertently left the bees in the friend’s house. The result was that the friend got stung and got an allergic reaction. “My actions had caused a lot of pain for my friend”, the author narrates.
The author then goes on to liken this to interpersonal relationships. “We hurt others when our actions aren’t Christlike”, he says. “Even after an apology, the ‘sting’ sticks.”
The author then says that people in the world look to Christians and expect to see more mercy, compassion, and encouragement, and less anger, judgment, and criticism.
That’s one aspect of evangelicalism that I never particularly cared for: feeling that I have to put on a show before a watching world. (One commenter on my blog a while back questioned whether people even are watching Christians, or care what Christians do or don’t do.) Of course, speaking for myself, I do expect for people who toot their horns about how Christian they are to behave in a certain way, so why should I be surprised if others have the same expectations about me? But, overall, I think that I should try to be a good person because that is the right thing to do, not because being bad will “blow my witness,” whatever that means, or make God look bad, as if God’s reputation depends on me being perfect.
I know that, when I hurt someone, I can apologize and receive forgiveness. But the sting is still there. The emotional wound is still there in the person I hurt. This is also the case with me, when somebody hurts me: I have a long memory. A desire to avoid hurt should be incentive enough for me to work on myself, with God’s help—-to cultivate love, peace, patience, joy, etc.
I read an article recently about someone who kissed evangelism good bye. The author said that she did not like sharing her contrived testimony, in which she had to portray herself as such a horrible sinner before Jesus saved her. I agree with her. I always hated giving my testimony. I would talk about how I would mouth off to my Mom before I became a Christian, and young people listening to my testimony would scoff at that.
I don’t give testimonies. My problem is not just how I was. My issue is struggling with how I am. I believe that’s true of everyone, on some level. That’s why I feel I need God.