Years ago, when my faith, enthusiasm, zeal and energy level was unquenchable, I was determined to find myself in some sort of ministry. Over the years God showed me that decisions I made earlier in my life kept me from the pastorate or the likes. So, I decided that perhaps working with “Christian Organizations,” churches and parachurch organizations would free me from what I did not like in many of the companies I had worked with, consulted with or contracted myself to. The truth was I wanted to escape the real world and live in some utopia where I would not be exposed to real life because “I had become more spiritual as I got older.” During those years I learned that there is no escape from humanity and its flawed state, regardless of where you work or who you work with. Your work matters to God, no matter what your vocation, or where you live according to 1 Corinthians 7:17.
I was looking for something I could never find – a place where everyone loved each other, never held grudges and was always willing to help. Well, the place doesn’t exist, even in the faith and family, as we learn from Gandhi’s quote: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I, like Gandhi, do not like the judgment because of one’s faith. I see it across myriads of religious organizations and realize it has done much harm to what we embrace.
I say this knowing that all of us at one time or another has held a grudge, been judgmental and downright unforgiving to those who needed it most. We tend to forget: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. (Matthew 6: 14 – 15) And, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins”. (Mark 11: 24 – 26).
However, it is the same mentality, while it may not appear so on the surface as Matthew 13:58 where it says: “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” We can keep going with something that may seem even more unrelated from 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” The truth is that there is a common thread in all of these verses that keeps us from appearing like the person whose name we have chosen to define us.
Christ came to change the edicts or laws into a mindset that is to guide our lives. It’s not about keeping the rules, it is about living a mentality of faith and commitment to the whole of Christ’s teachings, not just going to church, displaying our gifts or convincing others of how deep our Fruit Of The Spirit is. Years ago a Christian musician named Keith Green made this statement: “Going to church does not make you a Christian any more that going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” Cheesy, today, but still truth.
You will never experience the fullness of the peace, joy and hope that Christ offers until you can forgive, solidify your faith and love those, who at times, seem unlovable. Sometimes that may be friends, Christian brothers and sisters and even your spouse – not to mention those who mock your faith. Forgive them, believe that God can change them when you cannot. Most of all get rid of the negativity so YOUR prayers are not hindered. Life is hard enough without God hindering your prayers.