This year I dropped off the guest list for an annual Christmas party held in my neighborhood. My crime: I got divorced. The good news is that it seems that I am not the first to endure this consequence. The bad news is that it hurts. Being uninvited means that the host does not want to be with me or subject her guests to me. Ouch. Or maybe they fear that my condition is contagious. Or maybe they are worried that I will hit on all the married men at the party. So I am not contagious, but I am dangerous. Yikes, that is just embarrassing. Or maybe I don’t look like a good Christian anymore. Ouch, Ouch.
Is there such a thing as a good Christian? I don’t think so. This notion of the “good Christian” keeps us all on the treadmill of spiritual performance trying to prove to God and others that we are worthy of their attention and their admiration. And yet Jesus said himself in Luke 18:19 “No one is good—except God alone.” Any good works we do were prepared by God in advance. (Ephesians 2:10) Every good gift we give or receive comes from our Father in Heaven. (James 1:17) We can’t claim credit for any of these good things.
We try really hard to be good because deep down we all think that our failures and imperfections make us unlovable, but they don’t. They just make us human. Tim Keller said “You are more sinful than you could ever dare imagine and you are more loved and accepted than you could ever dare hope-at the same time.” More good news and bad news.
I am so thankful that I don’t have to prove anything to God to get Him to love me or be with me. He is Immanuel, God with me. God with me in my divorce. God with me in my messy life. God with me no matter what I do or is done to me. God doesn’t see me as contagious or dangerous nor does He see me as a good Christian. He doesn’t expect that from me. He provides the goodness and I receive it. It’s called grace.
So keep your eyes open this Christmas for those people who can accept your brokenness and still be with you. Those are people who represent God well, who will be your human Immanuel, God with us. And keep your heart open to those who need your love and acceptance in their beautiful mess. Be their Immanuel and invite them in. And may God be with us always.