- I will let my God down.
- I will let my wife down.
- I will let my sons down.
- I will let my church down.
- I will let myself down.
And in the process of all of this, I will ask you to excuse me.
But please don't.
Please don't excuse my second best, because I will want you to and will even ask for such slack so I won't be held accountable for my actions.
I will find all sorts of ways to spin my behavior so that it sounds normal, even though it isn't. I'll charm you with well-spoken words, compare myself to others, and use the phrase, "I'm only human" on more than one occasion to do something that demeans the very concept of humanity.
Will my behavior be "common?" Yes. That's why you may not notice it.
But will it be normal? No. Not at all.
"Normal" is what God defines as reality, not the brokenness man often does in mass quantities. That's another topic for another time, but the point is simple - don't confuse normal for common.
Back to my main point.
I will fall short, and ask you to excuse me for falling short. Only you shouldn't, because most of the time I will fall short it will happen because I didn't bother to give my best in preparation or when it mattered most. You might understand that, but please don't excuse me for it.
In fact, I'll do more than fall short... I will sin, and I'll water it down with rationale. And instead of asking you to speak hard truth into my life, I will ask you for grace. I like grace, and you do, too. Grace is the Christian's "get out of sin free" card, and we like to use it a lot. Sometimes we even bank on it ahead of time as we plan out our next tiny or humongous rebellion, assuming that God won't mind if we turn His love into something small and prostitutional.
So while I will tell you some things in the next year that make provision for me to slack off, push back, and sound like I know what I'm doing... I really don't want you to do that.
I really want to discover the "real me" that God is chiseling away at.
I really want to know what it means to embrace being the "new creation" He says I am.
I really want to know what it means to "continue to work out (my) salvation with fear and trembling."
Now, if that is my journey... if that is really what I'm after - to please the heart of the Lord with my life - then grace will be truly grace when its given. And I'll receive it then.
But please don't water down it as anything else before that. Please don't hand me grace without judgment.
Judgment? Oh yeah. Heck, yeah. Bring it on in the right spirit.
Judge me. Evaluate me. See if there is any way in me that is offensive so that you might help refine me as iron sharpens iron.
Again, I'll push you back on it. I won't like it and might say nasty things about the car your drive or the manner in which you prepare eggs.
But you push right back with a healthy spirit. I need it.
It's about time we stop worrying about such things. After all, what’s the worst that can happen if you’re judged? Someone either thinks incorrectly about you, or they see a blind spot and think more correctly about you that you do yourself. In either case what we don’t like is the discrepancy, even though each can become a great teacher to our lives if we let it.
So please ask me how I'm managing the money God's entrusted me to take care of... or my commitments and opportunities... or if I'm praying like I want to be praying, instead of the default version... or if I'm waiting until the last minute to do things that need more effort than that... or if I am reading the Bible at all... or how my thought life is as a man in a pornographic culture... or if I care about the people in my life who are far from God to the point where I am sharing Jesus with them even if they don't want me to... and if I'm likewise investing in my brothers and sisters who are doing their best to keep growing.
Ask me if I'm doing what I want and hoping God's okay with it instead of the other way around.
I realize I'm setting myself up here for more than I realize. And in realizing that, I will be ever more mindful to put up a front about it all because I know you'll be watching.
So instead I'm just going to keep doing what I always do - sharing my life with folks like you who will continue to see the raw me - the dork, the sage, the idiot, the pastor, the dad, the husband, the friend, the brutha from another mutha.
Because there is too much happening in this world and too much is at stake for me to give my second best...
even though I am planning on it.
So excuse me, but please don't excuse me.
I'm probably going to need you to challenge me on something important very soon.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverb 27:17)
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (Ecc 4:9-10)
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority" (Colossians 2:6-10)