What is your climate - your norms vs. your exceptions?

Trinity Pres Church copy

Likely you’ve seen the recent reports of snow in Los Angeles. There was even a measurable snowfall in Tampa in January of 1977… But a snowy winter is not the climate in L.A. or Tampa. 

Catch the vital distinction between an event and a climate — the difference between an exception and a norm. I want to ask you to assess your norms, exceptions, climate, and events. With your words, attitudes, interactions, and attention, what is your norm? And what is your exception?

Do you criticize, size up, evaluate, and correct? Or, even if you’re vividly aware of someone’s sinfulness, do you encourage, overlook failings, cover weaknesses, and appreciate effort?

I’m not advocating to dismiss sins or to empty the love of righteousness. But I am advocating for something extra — something supernatural even. What if we related to others who are sinners, AS sinners who are self-aware?

I can’t get over how Jesus lived with, encouraged, and even anticipated greatness in His disciples when He had to know every single thing wrong about them!! After all, Jesus is GOD!! So imagine not just hearing Peter or James or John say something rude, but knowing their heart from before the foundations of the world and knowing their frailties entirely as only God can know! And armed with that total knowledge, Jesus said things like, “greater works than me will you do” (John 13) and “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1).

So if, with totally infinite knowledge, you knew everything wrong, not just of what your roommate, co-worker, spouse, child, or parent had done, but every selfish motive and everything wrong they eventually would do, how would you view them? How would you treat them?

Here’s the catch. If perfection is necessary for someone to be worthy of respect or encouragement, how could Jesus say things like this (and more!) to His very sinful disciples? Jesus did something extra. He had to view His disciples through the lens of His own saving work on their behalf (and ours)! Knowing everything disqualifying, nevertheless, Jesus had to see His people through the complete cleansing He would achieve and the total righteousness He would seal to them by His Spirit through faith. Then in that light, He encouraged them. He overlooked a billion failures. He covered them. He simply lovingly appreciated them and aimed them with hope at their place in His mission.

So back to the people in your life and your norms. If you struggle to view people that way, start with how you want the Father to view you. Do you really want the LORD to criticize, size up, evaluate, and correct you? As He surely could?? Or would you like to be shown mercy, grace, love, and hope?

And then imagine if you turned that treatment that you freely receive from Jesus toward everyone in your life. When (not if) your roommate, co-worker, spouse, or child is wrong, ugly, petty, or selfish, can you view them through the lens of the finished work of Christ on their behalf? Which is the way the Father sees you. It is the climate of Grace.

Then, you can still address hurts, desires, failures, or disappointments honestly. But your relationship won’t be at stake because the same security in which you’re held in Christ is how you can remain committed to them. And I suspect the very way you yearn for the LORD’s love in your failings will encourage them as you love them in theirs.