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Sunday, November 20, 2016
4 God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; 5 He came to save us. It’s not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. He brought us out of our old ways of living to a new beginning through the washing of regeneration; and He made us completely new through the Holy Spirit, 6 who was poured out in abundance through Jesus the Anointed, our Savior. (Titus 3:4-6 VOICE) Many times we have to "begin again" when it comes to the things we attempt in this walk of faith - simply stated, we all mess up! It may seem like some Christians don't ever admit they have times when they just plain "fail miserably", but the church would be a whole lot better off if more of us admitted we aren't perfect! I think we give a false sense of reality to those who haven't quite overcome their desires to do things they shouldn't do, and I honestly believe this grieves the heart of God when we present this false image to those who are struggling. I think God wants his church to be filled with hurting, broken, and struggling believers - all on a mission toward "no longer failing", but genuine in that journey. If I were to be entirely honest here, I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have asked God for a new beginning over something I knew better than to do or say, but just went ahead and acted upon anyway. In fact, I have to consider my words and actions each day in the light of his grace - asking for a fresh start each time I stumble. Maybe yesterday's stumble was a little bit different from today's, but at the heart of the matter is a mind that wants to please him and a heart that is kind of fickle sometimes. My feelings get the best of me on occasion - how about you? Perhaps the church needs to arrive at the place they spend a little less time judging each other and a little more time embracing the reality of imperfection inherent in each of us. That is a pretty bold statement, but it is worth considering - for none of us has "arrived" at perfection - and even if we do at some point, it won't be by our own merit or effort! All of us move toward perfection through grace - God's gift, not our efforts. We drive away hungry and hurting souls whenever we demand perfection - when we judge someone as "too sinful", "not perfect", or "different from us". We forget, even though we may not have "sinned" in the exact same way as that person next to us, we ALL have sinned nonetheless! And there is no "degree" to sin - although we might somehow want to justify our sinfulness as "better" than another's. I think this is where I got hung up for a while in my own walk - thinking some sins were kind of "menial" (trivial, of less concern, easier for be forgiven for) than others. Those more "grievous" sins were tougher to break free from and just rose to a "different level", but truth be told, the "menial" sins of my life were equally hard to be free of as some of those more "grievous" sins were! Sin is sin - plain and simple. The world is full of hurting people, complete with some kind of hang-up they need to break free from, and we would do well to embrace them - not push them away. The example Christ gave was one of "inclusion", not "exclusion". Just sayin!