To be human is to be imperfect. In fact the word “human” in the dictionary is synonymous with the words “flawed” and “frail.” The world is filled with humans—humans bearing varying gifts, talents and tendencies; for good and bad. Unfortunately, one very common human tendency is the tendency to get in each other’s way… and on each other’s nerves. The closer we get to one another in this dance of life, the more likely it is that we will step on one another’s toes.
I’ll be the first to admit that there are days when things I’d typically let slide, feel especially annoying. Once in a while, a mood will overtake me like a thick black cloud. Suddenly, everyone I meet is antagonizingly out to get me. Those days, I want to climb back into bed, tuck my head under the covers and come back out when humans stop being stupid.
The question that comes to my mind when I’m that mood is this: Can I still be a Christian on the days that I can’t stand anyone?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is a little more complicated.
I think of the imprecatory psalms. These are psalms written by children of God crying out for the blood of their enemies. To “imprecate” is literally to invoke evil, or to curse. The imprecatory psalms are God’s children begging for God to respond to the hatred warring in their hearts against their enemies.
While the psalmists’ cries for justice are much more selfless than my overreactive rage against drivers who can’t seem to work a blinker, the fact remains that sometimes humans aren’t very nice to one another. And they don’t always wish each other well.
I also think of Romans 7 and Paul’s inward struggle to do what he knows he should, instead of what he actually does. Some days we hope bad things will happen to people we don’t like. Or, at best, we hope at least no good things will happen to them. God commands us to pray for our enemies… so we pray that we never have to deal with them again.
Any logical person would say that these prayers are completely unchristian. But that person would be fallacious. In other words, they would be dead wrong.
A Christian isn’t an individual who never hates or never sins. A Christian is an individual highly conscious of their sin, and their need for a Savior to forgive them for it.
While it’s true that graciousness and peaceableness are marks of Christian maturity, and, I can’t discount fruit of the spirit like kindness and patience… I firmly believe that my sin nature does not exclude me from absolution. I know that even with an ugly, nasty attitude, I remain a steadfast, chosen child of grace. Grace doesn’t change like my moods do.
It’s not what I do or don’t do that aquits me of my sin. Even my righteous actions are like rubbish to God. Neither do my feelings condemn me, because God is greater than the attitude of my heart. Grace and faith save; not behavior.
When Christ died for our sin, he died for all sin—past, present and future. Our salvation isn’t a reward, but a gift. It’s not dependent on our “giving it our all,” so much as it is dependent on the giver Himself—our Savior.
While the gift absolves us of the punishment, it does not give us the liberty to sin. The gift does not grant permission to hate, or dwell on ill-wishes. Hate in the human heart is still equivalent to murder… but even hate is conquerable by the ever present love of a holy and merciful God.
Sometimes the evil in my own heart catches me by surprise. Yet, instead of driving me to self-loathing and unpardonable disappointment, I find myself quietly humbled by the goodness of a gracious God. A God that knows the aching depths of my abiding shame and says, “This is not what I created you for.”
So, yes. For those of you who have ever wondered, you can still be a Christian on the days you can’t stand anyone… So long as you remember that you can’t stay there.