The path of faith can feel like a tightrope walk.
Teetering on tiptoe, arms spread wide, we balance one foot in front of the other. Our imperfect steps may waver, but each one brings us closer to the finish line.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve taken a few tumbles into the Safety Net, landed on my knees, and confessed the fall. I’ve also rushed across the wire, eyes squeezed shut, just wanting to get the balancing act done. It didn’t matter if it was graceful, I just wanted it over.
And then there were moments when I couldn’t cross alone—there was simply too much weight to carry. Struggling to find leverage my flailing hands were met by those who reeled me into safety and gathered me into arms of love and grace.
There have also been a few performances where I came up against cold stares, crossed arms, and what felt a whole lot like a backwards shove to my doom—followed by a kick while I was down.
All of our tightropes look different, don’t they? We serve the One True God, but we each exercise our faith in unique fashion. Some of us have more curves and edges, but our eternal goal is the same.
And ideally, we’re linking arms to get there.
“I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere…but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. ” Ephesians 4:2-4, 6-7 MSG
If instead of mending fences, we focus on broken planks we will cause irreparable damage.
There is a fine print to our faith that we often clutch too tightly. It’s intricate and delicate, and potentially devastating: the accountability clause.
God intends for us to lift up and support our family [the church]—to raise each other to new heights. Together we are called to bind wounds and bridge gaps. Confess and forgive. Pray and heal. Encourage, exhort, and admonish with gentleness and gracious intent.
If these family duties are not applied in correct context, and with God’s full council, they will wound instead of heal. Rather than stay together we’ll drive each other apart.
When you’re walking your tightrope and instead of cheers you hear the crowd snickering, “You’re doing that all wrong” and “Real faith doesn’t look like that,” it’s enough to make you want to jump.
We cannot claim our wounds can be trusted and then walk away while our family bleeds out.
There is damage that can come when we compare ourselves to others: it steals our joy and robs us of our unique identity in Christ. But there is equal devastation in reverse: comparing others to ourselves.
It’s a slippery slope and a few steps from a big fall when we climb onto pedestals, look down on the people, and dare them to level our heights.
Sometimes we shove when we really ought to reach.
“Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share [bear, endure, carry] their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Make a careful exploration [scrutinize, examine, test] of who you are and the work you have been called to, and then sink yourself into that.”
Galatians 6:3-4 MSG [AMP emphasis added]
Before we hold another accountable to Christ, let’s stand before Him ourselves.
Is our intent to ENCOURAGE others or ELEVATE ourselves?
Do we want to SPEAK TRUTH or BE RIGHT?
Is our motive to bring UNITY or to stir SEPARATION?
Do we want them to do it HIS WAY or OURS?
I’m as guilty as the next sinner of propping myself up on the judgment seat and dolling out my critique. When those slings and arrows were re-directed and I wore the target, I realized just how painful the wounds can be—and I was humbled before God and ever so grateful for His forgiveness of even my “well-intentioned” sins.
“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”
Our tightropes simply don’t look the same. And if someone chooses to walk theirs backwards, or left foot first, so long as they’re faith filled steps are in God’s direction, we aren’t entitled to shove them in ours.
May we be the people who listen before we leap, reach rather than shove, and gather our family into arms of grace.