Stuck in the Middle

I wish I could love people like Jesus.  The trouble is, nobody is like Jesus.~Michael N. Johns (writer), via Twitter.    Yeah that’s why I like Michael.  He’s got a great sense of humor.

Ghandi said something similar: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I’m stuck.  I want to figure out how to fulfill both commandments given by Jesus, and I can’t figure out how to do either one.  I want to be a good Christ follower, and be like Christ, but I’m a failure:

On the one side, I want to love my neighbor like I love myself.  You know, when I mess up I feel guilty for a while and then I forgive myself and move on because you can’t just stop everything because you feel like a jerk, or you feel stupid, or whatever.  So I want to forgive my neighbors.  And I don’t want anyone judging me because I’m not a perfect Christ-follower and I’m not a perfect husband and I’m not a perfect father and I’m not a perfect son and I’m not…  OK you get it, I’m not perfect.   Sure as fuck wish I was though.  In light of said admission, don’t fucking judge me.  And I want to not judge you.  Unless you’re stupid or selfish or a bully in which case, fuck you.  Yeah, I keep saying that, and it’s so unlike Jesus.  Damn.  Failed again.    FML.

Is it really MY FAULT?  Everyone is just so easily hateable!!  Damned if they’re not fuck ups JUST LIKE ME.  And well, hating myself is even easier.  And some people are even worse than me.  I have a simple set of rules that I really strive to follow.  They’re just from grade school:  Don’t be selfish.  Don’t steal.  Don’t lie.  Don’t cheat.  Don’t fight, or hurt other people.  Don’t take cuts in line.  Be nice.  Be courteous.  Be kind.  Be helpful.  Be encouraging.  Be thoughtful.  Understand and anticipate the consequences of your actions.  If you can’t say anything nice, shut the fuck up. Hold the door for others.  Stuff like that.  Break these basic rules, act selfish, or hurt someone and I’m not going to like you at all.

Jesus said to love other people.  He also said to turn away from sin.  Which, with all the hating of other people means I’m not a very good Christ follower.  And with the hateable behavior, means two things: 1) it’s easy to hate others, and 2) while I’m working out turning from my sin it’d be easier if you’d admit you’re a fuck up too.  If we agree on these things, maybe we can encourage each other to turn away from our favorite sins, whichever ones we are choosing.

On the other side, I want to love God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And in principle, I should.  See, we Christ-followers, for all our fuck-ups, are a very reassured group.  We trust in Christ, because there’s no way to earn our own salvation.  So with that, we have the ticket to heaven, you could say.  So I ought to love God.  But that’s hard too.  It’s easy to love my wife, when she’s loveable.  It’s easy to love my kids too, with the same stipulation.  I can see them.  I can touch them.  I can do nice things for them.  Even the homeless beggar on the street, I can see and provide tangible help.  I think that’s love.  I can say encouraging things to other people.  But God?

I can’t see Him, I can’t touch Him, and He doesn’t always answer me the way I want, and never how I expect.  Sometimes I feel like He has abandoned me and left me directionless and purpose-less.  That SUCKS.  And it’s hard to love a being like that.  Hell, it’s hard to understand HOW TO love a being like that.  I mean, do you love the wind?  You can’t see it, you can’t touch it.  And then I’m supposed to love Him whether or not He answers my prayers or not, whether He answers them like I’d like or not.  I’m supposed to just trust Him whether I feel like I can trust Him or not, when I often feel betrayed and abandoned.  And I’m just supposed to figure it out for myself (Philippians 2:12), well thank God very much for all the clarity of my individual purpose.  Then there are the Christ-followers, some are all right, but others are selfish and mean as fuck, and they clearly don’t love me so how’s that a good demonstration of how to follow Jesus?

I’m stuck between these two assignments and I can’t figure out how do do either one correctly.  I want to love God.  But I can’t.  So maybe if I’ve “done it to the least of these.” (Matthew 25:40).  Because I want to encourage others.  I guess sometimes I am doing that.  I want to be nice.  I guess sometimes I am doing that.  I want to trust. Oh, that one is hard.  And I want other people to understand how Jesus loved them and wants them to turn away from sin, but at the same time I frequently fail to turn from my own.  So… Maybe I’m doing some of it right.  I’ll just have to trust that it’s adequate because it’s all I can do. And maybe I can try to do a little more, a little better, than I’m already doing.

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