Grace for your heroes

Who is your hero? Don’t think about it too long. Who’s the first person that comes to mind? A teacher? A mentor? A parent or grandparent? We all have heroes. Some are older than us. Some are even younger than us. Others are our same age. And even though we know they are “only human” we still elevate them because to us, they’re larger than life. It’s not that we put them on a pedestal (though some of us do), it’s just that we have such high expectations for them.

So what happens when your hero falls? What happens when your hero makes a judgment call that hurts someone else? What happens when your hero sins?

Does it shake your world? Does it rock your faith? Or do you deny it and stand with them regardless of the truth? You know what I’m talking about. You exclaim that the stories can’t be true. You insist that your hero can’t have done anything wrong. How could they? They’re heroes. They know better. They know people are looking up to them, following them. They wouldn’t have made such a horrible choice. They couldn’t have.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but everyone fails. Even your heroes.

8ZB9C03AIJToday’s verses are Romans 3:10-20.

As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous—
not even one.
No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.
Snake venom drips from their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
They rush to commit murder.
Destruction and misery always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace.
They have no fear of God at all.”
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

The truth about following Christ is that everyone needs grace, from the worst of us to the best of us. No one is perfect. We know that, but knowing it and living it are two separate things.

It’s really, really easy to fixate on the “good” Christians, the ones who know the Bible, the ones who talk to God, the ones who have the answers. They’re the people we go to when we have questions. They’re the ones we ask when we’re afraid or uncertain or when our faith is faltering. And in our minds we think there’s absolutely no way that they would ever turn against God. They would never disobey. They would never do anything God says is wrong.

No one is righteous means that no one always does the right thing. Does that mean you shouldn’t trust anyone? Does that mean you shouldn’t build relationships with people? No, that’s not what it means at all.

It means that even your heroes need grace. They need the same grace from you that Christ offered to them.

Not excuses. Grace has nothing to do with making excuses. Grace doesn’t live in denial either. Grace recognizes that you’ve screwed up royally yet doesn’t hold it against you.

It’s good to have heroes. It’s good to have people in your life to run to when you’re scared or feeling vulnerable. Just remember that people are people. Don’t put your trust in people. Don’t build your foundation on any person other than Jesus Christ. Because He is the righteous one, and He doesn’t change.

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

People’s opinions can be a trap

I took an abbreviated Myers Briggs personality test the other day and came back as an ISFJ. It’s not the full test, but it’s fairly accurate, I think, which is kind of amazing. One of the points that really stood out to me in the description of what an ISFJ is, was the part about needing positive feedback and dealing with harsh criticism. I like to tell myself that I don’t care what people think, but it’s not true. I try not to let it bother me, but deep inside, people’s opinions matter. People’s opinions are an extension of who they are, and if people don’t have a positive opinion of me or of my writing or of anything I care about, I tend to take it personally.

But you can’t live that way–basing your life on other people’s opinions. Well, maybe you can live that way, but it’s not healthy or productive. People’s opinions change and oftentimes they are based on untruths or bias. It’s good to get opinions. It’s good to seek opinions. But it’s rarely wise to build your life on them.

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 29:25.

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but trusting the Lord means safety.

Be careful of other people’s opinions. Don’t misunderstand me: opinions are good. And it’s good to voice your opinions if they’re constructive and humble and well-intentioned, but if you’re going to voice your opinion, recognize that your word isn’t gospel. People have a right to disagree with you, and just because they disagree doesn’t mean they hate you. That’s part of the problem in America right now. We have this idea that disagreeing with someone equals hate or dislike, and that’s not true. Disagreement is one of the things that made this country. Disagreement is healthy. No one who is honest will believe that everyone will agree on every topic.

So be free to voice your opinions, but be okay if people disagree with you.

And if you’re an ISFJ like me, remember that people are certainly entitled to their opinions but that doesn’t mean you have to change your life to suit them.

You can trust people, yes, but remember that people are broken. People are flawed. People misunderstand and jump to conclusions and make decisions based on bias and prejudice. The one opinion you can fully trust is God’s. Why? Because He’s God. He doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t fly off the handle and change His mind at the drop of a hat. He doesn’t have biases or prejudices to color His judgment. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda that dictates His actions. His only agenda is the same one He’s been obvious about since the beginning of time.

It’s easy to trust people’s opinions because they’re loud about them and if you’re naturally an introvert or one of those types of personalities, it’s easy to follow. But remember that you have to be careful who you decide to follow. If you’re going to follow, make sure it’s someone who knows where they’re going.

Getting the opinion of a trusted friend is a good idea. Always. If it’s someone you know is grounded in truth, someone you know is dedicated to doing what God says is right, you can trust their opinion because they trusted God first. But when it all comes down to the end, it’s not going to be you and all your friends and God who have to give a reason for why you made the decisions you made. When the clock of the universe stops ticking, the person who will be responsible for your choices in life is you. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not your friends. Not even God.

You make choices every day, and you can choose to follow the crowd or follow God’s word. When it comes to an opinion, who do you think is going to be more trustworthy?