I’ve told this story before.
When my husband got down on one knee, he proposed with a pony tail holder.
We were tied up in buying a house, planning ahead for marriage, and he surprised me one night after I got off from work. Opening the door, I found him knelt down in the dark entrance of his rental house on one knee. He told me he couldn’t wait anymore to protect something that was his. H said he knew that ‘this’ wasn’t much, but he promised to give me so much more for the rest of our lives.
That ponytail holder still sits tight in it’s box, and while it seems like little to most, I’ll treasure it forever.
Not long after that night, He and I ran off to Memphis one Tuesday night, signed our marriage licenses in front of a stranger at Starbucks, and then followed her to the Museum steps in downtown Memphis where he and I would follow up our signatures in words; promises to each other forever.
Our Pentecostal preacher spat 1 Corinthians 13 faster than anything I’d ever heard. She told my now husband to kiss his bride, but don’t stay long because it wasn’t safe, and she grabbed her bible and left. Laughing to tears, we followed after her. got in our car, and back to our small town we went with a new promise to the same old place.
My ponytail wasn’t fit for everyday wear; three loops was not tight enough and if I had worn four, I might be missing my ring finger. Proud of the promise Neal and I had made, I needed something to attest to it. Still tied up in paperwork, a nice size 5.5 gold band from Claires had more diameter than it did price, another circle that I will always treasure.
With every passing day after the first, my makeshift wedding band wore more and more until eventually all of its “gold plated” had turned just plated, and with that turned my finger.
I wore a new ring after that, a green one. I wore it with pride. Some of you may not realize that you too, are wearing a ring much like the one I carried on my finger for some time.
You see, my second circle, the first ring, faded because it was fake and with time… anything else that isn’t real will eventually erode also. Then what?
So many times I have said that the way that we live our everyday lives is our greatest and most powerful ministry.
People watch people.
We truly, truly need to take that to heart; over and over I’ve replayed the scriptures in my head…
“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9
“therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this — not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in another brothers way.” Romans 14:13
“And it will be said, ‘build up build up, prepare the way, remove any stumbling block out of the way of my people'” Isaiah 57:14
“But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but of man’s'” Matthew 23:13
I’ve had my relationship with Jesus questioned lately, and that’s just not something I want to be responsible for…you know, being someone’s stumbling block.
How we live as Christians can greatly impact the lives of others, those that know God and those who don’t.
Sometimes an image is hard to uphold; certainly one that is only gold-plated- full of some other dull metal on the inside. Like any imitation metal eventually wears to it’s true foundation, so does any imitation Christian.
Satan knows no boundries and self? It only knows sin. Everybody’s self. Yours and mine alike.
So how are we supposed to know what is real and what is not?
Paul said it best in Romans chapter 7.
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, But I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing.” v.14-19
read that again… slow. I’ll translate.
I know what is right is good by God, But I am human, a slave to sin. I don’t understand myself sometimes. I don’t always do the things that I should, even though I want to, and instead, I end up doing the very things I am against.. things I hate because God hates. Now even though I do bad things, things I don’t mean to, I still believe that what God wants is good and right. So now, its not me doing all these wrong things, but the sin in me. Nothing good comes from self, you know, my flesh; for I, so bad, want to do what is right but can’t seem to always get myself there. I don’t do everything right like I want, but the bad things, I so very hard try to avoid, I sometimes do anyway.
Anybody else relate?
This chapter goes on to say is verse 21 that you can count on it, any time you want to do right, evil will always be close by.
Can I just say Thank God for God?
Even as Christians we try to uphold this standard.. a super one. I swear God laughs at us all the time because for whatever reason we think we’re invincible and are surprised when we don’t ‘get it all right’ when the very religion we devote our lives to, literally lay down our lives for, is built around the one perfect human… you know.. not you.
Every sin is sin. It’s all offensive. It’s all bad; the Christians sin; the sinner’s sin. all of it. bad. but sin is different. Not ‘good’ sin and not-good sin.. just different sin.
There is sin and conviction and there is sin and condemnation and while it may be the very same sin… it effectuates very different endings.
conviction: “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free, free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” Romans 8: 1,2
condemnation: “there is a way that seems right to man, but it’s end is the way to death.” proverbs 14:12
Romans 3 says ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but 1st John 5:17 says that though “all wrongdoing is sin, there is sin that does not lead to death.” If there is sin that does NOT lead to death, wouldn’t is also be right to know that there is sin that does?
A life lived under the rule of Christ doesn’t give anybody the authority to live as ones flesh would desire, but the freedom to make mistakes with consequence of conviction without the permanence of condemnation. So while all sin is sin, only unrepentant sin leads to death.
And while Jesus knows all well that you and I are not perfect, He expects us to know perfect and feel the weight of those things not perfect in ourselves as they become present in our lives… and then he says “Go, and sin no more.”
So learn. Learn that the most christian Christian you look up to, or even you, yourself, are still and only always human; and know also, that if you’ve committed your life to a image of impersonation instead of to The Life of our ‘I AM’ you are only under cover as long as you are under sky.
There will be people to criticize your faith, others that character play theirs lives but know that even Jesus had people talk about Him. The Jesus that lived a completely perfect life.
“and there was much muttering about Jesus among the people. While some said, “he is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading people astray.” John 7: 11.12
and at a distances glance, you cannot tell the real from the plated. Some will say good things and some will say bad things. Others will say what everybody else is saying, just to have something to say…
Sometimes, most times, it comes down to you and Jesus. Only the two of you know who you are; what sin you carry..
and while I adore the diamond studded band that now wraps around my left forth finger, I will never forget what the first two taught me: too tight or too loose does not make a good fit, and trying to pretend what looks good on the outside is just as good… isn’t. There’s only one true fit and that fit is imperfection guided by divine intervention because only Christ Jesus himself can decide which golds purify and which ones perish.