Breaking out of the sweetness trap
READ TIME: 3 MINUTES
Over the last couple of years and for the first time in, well, maybe ever, I decided to cut ties with people who were hindering my spiritual growth.
And what a good thing it’s been.
Doing that has made room for quality, godly friendships. Cutting ties has helped me to keep my mind pure, my decisions faith-based, and my words loving. It has helped my energy level, because I'm no longer drained from all of the drama. I feel free and weightless instead of trudging around all the sludge from poor, pointless friendships. Praise God for revelation! And praise Him again for the grace to walk in that revelation!
The thing that was the hardest part of cutting ties is that it didn't feel “nice”. And THAT didn't feel Christian. And I didn't want to misrepresent Christ, right? What I realized only recently was that Christ wasn't wallowing around with lost people who LOVED being lost. He was going out to find lost people and giving them the spark of God's love...and then eat/sleep/repeat.
So then why did it take me 25 years of my life to decide to break ties with people?
Here's my running theory... I think God is showing me that I waste a lot of precious energy trying to be "nice" and that's neither the Gospel nor Christ's example. Satan uses the fear of being "not sweet" and "not nice" to paralyze Christians from seizing the life that God has for them.
I think it's so easy to fall into the trap of evaluating our motives and thinking anything not seemingly nice or sweet is not from the Lord. But I can personally attest that when I was growing up, I needed a lot of tough love convos, and I'm thankful for those friends and parents of friends who knew better than to let the desire for "nice and sweet" overtake their love. More recently, my closest friends and my husband have become those who correct me when I'm running off-course. For me, I would rather be the friend who will lovingly lead you off of a dead path than the one who wishes you safe travels while you drive off the side of a cliff.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
What I'm sensing more and more is that we Christians need to be highly aware of that which is our source of action. You see, niceness can be a religion, but it's not the same as the religion of JESUS. You know how you can test whether your action stems from the religion of niceness or if you're being led by Jesus? Ask yourself this:
Is this leading me into the fullness of life that Jesus died to bring me into?
Southern hospitality: nice, but not worthy of Jesus’ death. Acting bubbly, outgoing, watching Fixer Upper, voting Republican*, going to church, and eating Chick-fil-A: all nice, but not the reason for Jesus’ death.
Jesus died for so much more!
He died for our direct connection to the true source: God. Our desire should be to keep that PURE. And I think it is, but we get so easily distracted. We want to look like Christians, act like Christians, talk like Christians. But when our source of life comes from "good ideas" and not Christ's pure example, our faith becomes weak and watered-down.
Think about the term "Christian", which was first used in Acts 11 to describe those who were walking in the path of Christ - those who were Christ-like. And then think about my previous statement of how we want to look like Christians. And then combine those ideas: Do we really want to be "Christ-like-like"?? (Can we all agree that "like" is used far too often in today's culture...) Why not get right to the source, Christ Jesus, rather than a distant "like-like"? Why not emulate Jesus, rather than emulate people who emulate Jesus?
At this point, I realize that my original thoughts from my midnight epiphany have tangentially sprouted, but I consider this far more worthwhile:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, who...made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him [Jesus]...to the glory of God the Father."
When I get back to God as the source for all my motives and actions, and I ponder Jesus' death, I clearly see how lame it is to think my life's reputation should be "nice" and "sweet". Rather, if I’m truly Christian (Christ-like), my life should reflect Jesus — dead in my human ways, and eternally alive in God.
I'm committing to giving less credit to the words nice and sweet and getting back to the source of love and truth… God!