An innocent comment has inadvertently caused me to take a long, hard look at my life. It was something like, " I think you're at a different level of Christianity than I am". And then, a few weeks back, a friend thanked me for some encouragement I had offered, then added, "but don't overdo it." It had never occurred to me before, but putting the two incidents together, I'm cringing now to think that I might be projecting some sort of holier-than-thou, so-heavenly-minded-I'm-no-earthly-good, looking-at-the-world-through-rose-coloured-glasses vibe to people in my world. Do I overdo it? Am I too much when it comes to my faith? Do I seem insincere? Over the top? Do I encourage too much? Am I too enthusiastic, too positive, too joyful?
I'm not fishing for compliments or affirmation here, I promise... I'm genuinely concerned that what I'm putting out there might be turning people off to Jesus. Or at the very least, having my witness overlooked or passed by or dis-counted because I appear to be deceptive, devious, evasive, false, fake, hypocritical, phony or just plain silly (frivolous, childish, preposterous, ridiculous...). (Thank you, thesaurus(dot)com.)
And if this is actually the case, what in the world do I do about it? Because, believe it or not folks, it's all real. I love to encourage people. I get giddy when I get to worship. All those lovely Facebook pictures with great verses or quotes really do speak to me and challenge me. The glory of nature really does thrill my soul. I get so excited about what I'm learning that I just have to share it. Yes, I get sad and discouraged and frustrated and fearful at times, and I try to be up-front about that, too. I call this blog (the) real joy for a reason, and I'm doing my best to live my life after the same pattern. I'm not trying to justify anything here, just stating the facts.
But I never stopped to consider before what my life must look like to other people. Am I alienating people with whom I should be trying to connect? Am I causing anyone to stumble? Am I helping or hurting the cause of Christ? Does anyone actually take me seriously? Am I being a faithful ambassador? A credible representative?
Are these even the right questions? I don't know. But then there's this:
For the message of the cross
is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18)
I don't even know if that particular verse is relevant to this discussion, but it's what came to mind. All I know is that I want to be all His. I want to be right in the middle of what He's doing. I don't want to hold anything back. But there is such a thing as maturity, tact, wisdom, restraint - right?
Yes, I'm actually asking the questions. I must admit to a sort of sinking, quaking sensation when I consider the potential feedback on this post. I find myself hoping, in my most secret, insecure heart-of-hearts, to hear from at least one person in my world that I'm awesome just the way I am (smirk), but I tremble at the thought that someone thinks this is a valid concern, even if they never say so. Regardless, I believe there's value in self-examination for the purpose of self-improvement. And I believe in the value of wise counsel from fellow believers. And I believe that God reveals truth when we seek Him. So bring it on!