Should I hold Christians to a higher standard?
It might not seem fair, but yes, I do.
Don’t worry: I’m including myself. I have high expectations of myself, too. Not because I believe God’s grace is performance-driven. Not because I get some award or affirmation. But because God invites me into “better.” He invites—even promises—characteristics that include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It’s who he is, and he equips me to become the same.
That’s a process. None of us have it all mastered. We can’t. Growing in faith doesn’t work like a task list of accomplishments. We grow and think we’re getting it, then we find out there’s some unlearning we have to do, some pruning, grafting, and regrowth. The seed grows and produces fruit, which serves as seed for more growth and fruit.
I see a lot of fruit growing among Christians through some difficult situations right now. Trying times often reveal some wonderful things that have been preparing to push through the soil and blossom. But trying times also reveal some rotting fruit. Perhaps it was beautiful at one time, but it wasn’t harvested well, so it begins to dry or rot. Bitterness sets in. What looked promising begins to show a lack of care over time.
It happens to a lot of us.
But it never has to continue. Sometimes we need to pause, evaluate, and be humble enough to say, “My stubbornness is getting in the way.” “How I’m responding is not loving.” “I’m not at peace, or I’m at the wrong kind of peace for the wrong reasons.” “I’m more faithful to my comfort than to my God.” Gentleness, kindness, and patience? How much of that are we seeing right now?
Maybe someone “on the other side” of the argument you’re in isn’t embracing those characteristics either, but that’s not the point. I have a responsibility, you have a responsibility, we have a responsibility to honor God.
We do it his way, not in order to get what we want or justify ourselves but to be faith-filled people. It’s okay to be different. We don’t have to win every argument. We don’t have to be understood in every situation. We need to be Christ-like.