The first night we stayed in our new home, my wife decided to cook some pasta.
All she did was boil some water for the pasta, when – BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE – the smoke alarm in the kitchen went off!
“Well, that can’t be right,” I thought.
We fanned away the steam from the pot of water and checked to see if there was any actual smoke anywhere.
We put the pot back on to boil, walked into the other room, and – BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE – again! I ran into the kitchen and tried to reason with the smoke detector, “There isn’t any smoke! It’s just steam!”
I hit the button to turn off the alarm. It waited all of three second before – BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE – and then I got angry at it.
“Shut up! Shut up, you stupid alarm!” I then proceeded to rip the alarm off the ceiling and throw it in a drawer in the room furthest away from the kitchen, where it still sits to this day, several months later.
As Christians, we tend to do this. We see a hint of something potentially dangerous and freak out or overreact.
For instance, cussing.
One of my favorite “Christian” movies is The Second Chance, featuring Michael W. Smith. In this movie, a young man who works at the church got jumped by a gang when he tried to protect a boy attempting to leave it.
The janitor, who was a bit mentally handicapped, upon seeing his friend covered in bandages and bruises, asked, “Does it hurt?”
“Yeah,” he replied, a bit upset, “It hurts like Hell.”
The janitor then responded, “God doesn’t like it when you swear.”
Later in the film, the staff holds a “foot washing” ceremony, where they ask forgiveness for their wrongs and patch up differences between them. The janitor wants to wash his friend’s feet, even though the young man tries to convince him it’s not necessary.
The janitor didn’t relent. He washed his friend’s feet saying something like, “I was more worried about you swearing than about how much pain you were in, when I’ve never been beat that bad before.”
This illustrated a point that resonated in me. Christians tend to be overly sensitive when it comes to the actions of those around us.
I mean, yes, of course, God would rather we not swear. But, at the same time, we have to realize that we are all humans who have problems, and our swearing is often a symptom of a larger problem.
It’s even more ridiculous for us to get upset over the mistakes and misdeeds of those who aren’t Christians.
Why? Because that is who they are. That is where their lives have taken them. And that is how they will be when and if they come to Christ.
God wants you to come as you are, warts and all.
You aren’t going to save anyone by telling them how terrible they are, but rather, you’ll reach those who learn that God’s love comes with mercy and forgiveness. Then, that will inspire change.
Don’t freak out over little things. Instead, learn to love in spite of those things. Then, be a good example yourself. That’s all God asks you to do.
We need to have compassion for those who are broken enough that it has caused fractures in their hearts. Those fractures are their bad language, their broken relationships, their saggy pants, their distrust of authority, their use of drugs, alcohol, or porn.
They need your love. They need your prayers. They need your grace. They need your help.
They don’t need your BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE BREEEEE!
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Funko Pop Collector. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.