Not me! Not I…but Christ

One of the perks of studying abroad with a college theater group was free or cheap tickets to theatrical productions playing wherever we were. Actors like to play to full houses, so if there are spare tickets, they are happy to find worthy recipients. On one such occasion while I was studying in Italy, the British National Theatre was touring with their production of The Passion Play, and we somehow gleaned tickets for a performance in Rome. Because we had the “cheap seats” (the groundlings), we got to be very close to the action, sometimes part of the action, as we stood on the floor (for six hours with one dinner break). The first act told stories from the Old Testament, and the second act, the story of Christ from the gospels. Of course, during the Palm Sunday scene, everyone was excitedly cheering. Then during the Good Friday scenes, most of the audience was excitedly jeering. Except me. As one who seemed to be the “token Christian” in my group, I was not about to cry out, “Crucify Him!” I loved Jesus and wanted no part in demanding His crucifixion. And that’s what I shared when a couple of the others asked why I had been quiet. I thought of myself like one of the women who had followed Him and watched the crucifixion, devastated by His murder. I had even portrayed Mary Magdalene several times in an Easter monologue―but I had not considered why she followed Him even to death. (See Mark 16:9.) That kind of gratitude was not part of my response at the play, nor even part of my testimony....

Not me! Not I…but Christ2022-05-04T23:19:43+00:00

We Are Not Better Than This

JILL WIGGINS|GUEST Earlier this month, I witnessed the assault on our nation’s Capitol with incredulity. In the aftermath, I found myself consuming copious amounts of media examining responses from political leaders, pastors, and news sources. It did not take long before a myriad of politicians from both parties adopted the familiar phrase often uttered by parents and teachers alike to children whose behavior has been disappointing— “We are better than this.'' Although I understand the sentiment and its guilt-eliciting, behavior-changing appeal, I would respectfully and broken heartedly disagree with their proclamation.  We as Christians should be the first to point out that “we are not better than this.”   I spent the better part of my teenage years thinking that I was “better than this.” I grew up in a small Baptist church in northeast Alabama and our offering envelopes came preprinted on the front with a variety of boxes to check. There was a box for attendance, daily bible reading, offering, and lesson preparation.  Every Sunday night at youth group, my goal was to very literally turn in an envelope that checked all the boxes, because along with not drinking, smoking, cussing, or fooling around with boys, that was what “Good Christians” did. In the years since, the list has become more political in nature, but the sentiment is the same. Then and now, there are boxes to check, issues to support, causes to champion. These are things that Christians do. . . and those are things Christians do not do. Though not overtly stated, I perceived that there was “us” and there was “them.”  We were good “box-checking” Christians, and “they” were dirty, bad, vile, worldly, sinners.    Yet, one Sunday night, the summer following my senior year of high school, I found myself face down on the hook rug on the floor of my bedroom, crying out to God. I realized that I was    one of “them.” I was dirty, bad, vile, and worldly.  For all my box checking, I was a fraud.  A pit formed in my stomach, and I believed that if everyone knew just how really bad I was, how dirty I felt on the inside, no one would ever love me. And that’s when I met Jesus. After all, we must first see the sin in ourselves to grasp the wonder of God’s grace. Paul in his letter to Timothy states that “Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15). Present tense.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners like me. Sinners.  Like me. And that is the good news. That is the gospel. That is grace... 

We Are Not Better Than This2022-05-04T23:37:26+00:00

Shame: A Burden We Were Never Intended to Carry

I attended a wedding a little while ago and had an unexpected interaction with another guest. Moments before the bride walked down the aisle, there was a man seemingly trying to make eye contact with me. I didn’t recognize him, so I assumed he was looking at a clock or a bird or someone behind me. I just looked away. But, he continued and actually escalated his attempt at communication with a casual wave. Nonplussed, I waved back, hoping he would realize that we didn’t know each other. The whole exchange felt really awkward. And…yes, I’m single and I know what all of you are thinking. No. Anyway, after the ceremony, he hesitatingly approached me. He said, “You don’t remember me, do you?” I absolutely hate this question because I often forget meeting people. I answered as politely as I could that I didn’t remember him. He gave me his name, which helped slightly, then he reminded me that we worked within the same organization over a decade ago. You have to understand, I was vaguely beginning to put some memories in order. He then proceeded to tell me that since we worked together, he had become a Christian. He shared his story, in brief, and began to unpack the way he used to live before he came to faith in Christ. He continued and said that he believed that if he was ever afforded the opportunity to ask me to forgive him, he would. Forgive him? Forgive him for what? I didn’t even remember him.

Shame: A Burden We Were Never Intended to Carry2022-05-07T23:53:39+00:00
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