Moving away from the juggling analogy (Juggling and the Christian Life), where the perceptions of an error and itâ€™s effect on participants can be clearly dealt with, let us concentrate on the discussed similarities in the Christian life. Here the lines are less distinct and divorcing oneself from the effects more difficult.
In comparing our perception of our personal walk with the Lord and the expectations directed at us from others in the guise of responsibilities (read that as optics), let us look for the end game. That would be the conflicting messages often propagated not only by non-believers, but in churches, and then adopted by extension through others in the Body.
Observation would indicate that the delivery of these contradictory messages is both consistent and common, with no surface indication that the deliverers have any insight into the conflict being communicated. That in itself is hard to fathom.
What am I talking about, you ask?
A believer is frequently exhorted to always act in a manner that will reflect wonderfully on the church and show the joy of Christian life. It is made a â€˜responsibilityâ€™ of the believer by implication to show that conversion will bring clear outward indication of the â€œhope that is within usâ€. This demonstration is to draw the non-believer to see the value in conversion in the joy of the believer. This is certainly what the Lord said at various times, but the way it is interpreted in the Christian community can be a problem.
At the same time, the same believer is warned that the necessary correction, calling to attention of problems, pruning and regrowth of character, etc. will involve often great difficulty in life. This will at times render the believer rebellious and struggling, all for the glory of the Lord as the development later bears fruit, but nonetheless problematic at the time. In a nutshell, we often resist change and act badly in the throws of it. Since these are often big changes, the associated difficulties and behavioural struggles may also be big.
Do you see the problem?
On the one hand one is to act perfectly and reflect the beauty of thier calling, being made to feel guilty if they were to do otherwise. At the same time, one is exhorted to embrace difficult change in the clear realization that you may initially react and/or act badly. This is a Catch 22, and there must be fundamental error somewhere in the interpretation active in this situation.
I do not propose to have the complete answer, but part of it must be in the safety of the irresistible Effectual Calling of the elect. We are indeed called to preach the Gospel to the unsaved. But we are call to do it from where we are now – where our Lord has placed us. We may be fraught with problems and not act the best, but that is who we are in the Lord at that time. And that is okay! The Calling is His.
The responsibility for the conversion of others is the Lordâ€™s, not ours. Not even a little bit is ours! If they are to be called, then they can not successfully resist any more that we can be other than who we are, in His process, at that moment. If the truth of us in the Lord meets with them, then we are presenting exactly what the Lord intended, irrespective of what a bystander might think. And they WILL be called if it is His will.
So to those who proposed that the believer put on a perfect face, presenting things in a better light â€“ get over it. We are certainly called to reflect the Lord to the best of our ability, but that is as ourselves, as we are now. We may be rejoicing in his Calling but still not rejoicing in life at that moment. Some may say that is what they are saying. Possibly true, but from the pews what is often being â€˜heardâ€™ is the precursor to personal guilt and stress. That is error, plain and simple, and does not further the Kingdom
All Glory to our Lord.