|image by: Egan Snow|
I fell asleep with the window open and woke up cold with the chill smell of leaves blowing through my room. The particular cold botanical aroma of late summer awoke memories of Interlochen, the northern Michigan arts camp where I spent the last week of every summer for all four years of high school. Filled with nostalgia, I also felt regret as I remembered those years. I did not live up to the standard by which I judged others. I was rude, fearful, and self-righteous. Since high school, I’ve apologized to many of my friends for the person I was. (If you feel you deserve an apology but have been left out, please let me know.)
I think I've improved as a person since then, but I don’t want to focus on that; it is unimportant. Hopefully we do improve as we live life, but life isn’t ultimately about self-improvement. Being better now doesn’t remove the consequences of my words and actions, not can it earn forgiveness. I personally must remember this or I fall back into self-righteousness. Christianity doesn't smile on self-righteousness.
As I understand, teach, and live it, Christianity has little to do with good behavior or morals. It can produce them, but at it's core Christianity is repeatedly realizing that our most heroic efforts to live holy lives have been unsuccessful (Isaiah 64:6), and finding that God offers his unconditional love to us no matter what we’ve done. Regardless of how we've failed, God loves us more than we can imagine. God readily forgives us, no matter how we embarrassingly we’ve behaved.
Read The Parable of the Prodigal Son today. Did you know that “prodigal” means “Wasteful?” Both boys were wasteful. While one wasted his dad’s money; the other wasted precious time withholding forgiveness. Which boy is most like you? Whichever one you are, God welcomes you into his presence with open arms. Jesus loves you relentlessly, with love you’re worst actions can never undermine. Sometimes we struggle to accept this. We try to earn God’s love, but it’s free and can only ever be free. When do you find it difficult to accept God’s love? What wears down your resistance?