Reading Your Mail

It’s painful watching someone self-destructing on your computer screen.

From the posts people make on social media, you can feel like you’re reading their mail. They’ve just been through something tough – loss of a job, a relationship – some major wounding. And now comes the self-defense posting…

“If someone leaves you, they were never meant to be in your life in the first place…”
“Work where they value you, not where they only want to use you…”

And the ever-popular…

“You are enough!”

As you watch, you realize it’s been months since the wound happened in their lives, yet they still haven’t moved on. The self-defense posts continue.

“Sorry that I was too much for you. I often have that effect on weaker people…”
“A bad leader will end up with the employees they deserve!”

And once again, the always effective…

“You are MORE than enough!”

Their enemy now lives rent-free in their head, and they don’t even know it.

I am certainly guilty of doing my share of “over-sharing” online—it’s easy to use Facebook as your personal therapist. For all the criticism of social media, the insight it can give you into people’s psyche is amazing. Trying to fix yourself on Facebook lets everyone know how broken you are. The bad part is when you haven’t discovered it for yourself. The saddest ones are desperately trying to convince themselves of something, while pretending to be telling us how confident they are.

As the old joke goes, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” Denial is right in front of us, all over our Facebook pages:

-Declarations of self-importance.
-Protestations of no longer putting up with ill-treatment and disrespect.
-Statements proclaim their worth and goodness just as they are, without needing to change or adjust to any higher standard.

The lack of self-knowledge can be breathtaking.

The truth of Christianity rubs against their statements like a car wheel grinding against a worn-out brake pad.

They say they are enough, while Christianity says they are not even close. They proclaim their personal goodness, while Christianity proclaims their sinfulness. In fact, Christianity gives an unflinching, bare-knuckled account of exactly how sad the human condition is. While we post about our sainthood, Jesus looks us square in the eyes and seems to be saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Remember the adulterous woman that Jesus saved from stoning. We always make a big deal of his defending her from the hypocritical attacks of the Pharisees. But He didn’t tell her, “You do you, Gurl!”

What we forget were His parting words to her: “Go and sin no more.”

That’s the amazing part about Christianity. Instead of propping us up with false statements of our goodness, the carpenter from Nazareth says, “No, you are a sinner. But I still love you!”

He says, “Actually, you got what you deserved. But I want to give you something better.”

And to a world obsessed with self-aggrandizing memes, He proclaims, “No, you are not enough…but I am!”

Though we are always accused of believing in fairy tales, the Christian view of human nature is the most realistic thing there is. It unflinchingly tells us exactly who or what we are.

It is the one true mirror that reflects for us just how unlovely our selfish actions make us. Then, it looks us in the eye and tells us we are unbelievably loved.

This grace is the beautiful, miraculous mercy offered to the brazen, self-obsessed people we really are. The beauty of Christianity is that, in spite of our failings, in spite of our hatefulness, in spite of our breathtaking cruelty, God still desires us and offers His love.

This love is clear-eyed about our condition yet full of wonder in its stubbornness.

We are, indeed, the worst of sinners. And yet, we are the most loved, precious children to our Father. He is not in denial about what we are. He is not buying any of that malarky we are trying to sell about our worth.

Yet He would throw Himself in front of a bus to save us.

That bus was shaped like a cross, and most people still pass by, unaware it was actually careening toward them, not Him. The God of the universe mortgaged heaven to save a planet of self-important nobodies who don’t even realize how little they can offer Him.

God has indeed “read our mail.” He is not in denial about how broken you and I truly are. And yet, in spite of this, He just keeps coming back for more, determined to rescue us from ourselves.

He’s saying to us, “It’s okay, the charade is over. You don’t have to keep pretending. I love you anyway!”

What a relief.

And what amazing grace!

Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

Dave Gipson
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