Peace is an assurance that in the midst of hell breaking loose: shootings, wars, riots, and acts of terrorism each time we turn on the television, God remains. God is not being terrorized. Heartbroken? I think so. But not uncertain or afraid. I think Heaven weeps, but God knows the beginning from the end. Peace says that things will get better one day. Our waiting will be worth it.
Politicians and pundits are using stronger language than ever, and who knows if they ever mean what they say or if it’s just a brazen attempt to put their sound byte at the top of another news cycle. I want to be an informed citizen, but the news seems to be growing more dim by the day. As a result, our world seems more fearful than ever. So what should a Christian do?
I’ve been reluctant to share anything spiritual or vulnerable lately, for fear of it being ripped to shreds by ‘the world’ or over-analyzed by Christians. But vulnerability is beautiful and it inspires me to do better; to be better. I’ve been walking around wearing shame like an overcoat. Each shortcoming and mistake has added to the weight of that coat, like one of those little playground pebbles. I took the pebbles at first, placing them one-by-one into the pockets of my coat. I was able to ignore them and continue to function, but even tiny rocks become heavy after a while.
This week’s question is another great, seemingly simple question: what does it mean to be a good Christian? Much like last week’s question, in my old life, I would have had a quick answer. I was a black and white religious guy with no room for gray areas. But now that messy grace has transformed my life, I can see how much we need to revisit the basics of our faith, not just for the sake of new Christians, but for those of us who continually need to shed the scales from our eyes.
So what does it mean to be a good Christian?
Do you have a list of memorable conversations in your memory? Ones you wish you could go back and replay from time to time? Maybe because they were life-changing, maybe because they taught you some incredible lesson, or maybe because they made you laugh your ass off. I have had those conversations, too.
Healing is possible. No matter what you have faced. You can heal from your addiction, incest, trauma, sexual assault or rape, cancer, depression, panic attacks, racing and disturbing thoughts, suicide attempts, cutting and other forms of self-injury, bullying and anything else that life may throw your way.
The first question in my brand-new ASK STEVE series comes from a Twitter follower, who simply asked, ‘What is grace?’ What a great question. In my years of religious fervor, that would have been the simplest question in the world to answer. ‘Undeserved favor, of course.’ I knew exactly how to regurgitate Christianese on demand.
But how does the person who has started following Jesus as an adult answer that question? The one who wasn’t raised in church and doesn’t have all the knowledge – or baggage – the rest of us have? What is grace to the newbie?