There are days when I know I need grace.  There are times when it might look like I’ve forgotten or forgotten that you need it to.  We all need grace and mercy, forgiveness and healing.  We are broken people living in a broken world.  We’ve been dealt a bad hand, but we still need to play it.  Some hands may be worse than others, but we shouldn’t just fold (though we do have that option).

It’s comfortable on the sidelines.  We’ve made these zones for ourselves that we cling to.  If someone moves beyond our comfort zone, we wave as they drift away.  We don’t stretch ourselves.  Why is that?

I’m not saying you need to go skydiving or clubbing or take up an extreme sport.  I just think that I need to broaden my horizons.  Read articles written from perspectives I disagree with, read books from a wide variety of genres and authors, watch multiple news programs from multiple channels.  That sort of thing.  If I don’t understand my views, how can I discuss them in a civilized manner.

The challenge isn’t so that I’ll know how to argue better against the “other side” by understanding their logic and talking points.  The point, for me, is to find that common ground between us, to view this person outside my comfort zone as a human being worthy of respect and love.  Sometimes, that’s hard.

Society is so polarized.  We yearn for approval, but seek it from the world.  We craves likes and upvotes, and pats on the back from strangers on the internet instead of searching for it from God.

When I seek approval from the world, I paralyze myself.  I’m so afraid of looking foolish that I refuse to move.  I’m unwilling to make a mistake because it might be the wrong choice, so I don’t move.  I become so concerned with what my friends think that I refuse to say anything without checking with them.

God loves us unconditionally.  Regardless of what we do, He’s whispering our name and spreading his arms wide, ready to embrace us.  However, unconditional love doesn’t mean acceptance of all our actions.  Your parents love you warts and all, yet none of them would let you touch a hot stove.  Because it’s harmful.  Sin is harmful.  God only wants what’s best for us.

Sometimes, I know I get carried away in leaning only on the truth.  I forget to season the message with love.  Without love, the truth sounds harsh and unflinching.  Without truth, love sounds squishy and unconcerned.  It’s a delicate balance.

I’m still working on it.  God’s the only one who’s figured it out.

When He asks us to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him, it’s not because He wants to see us suffer.  It’s because He knows this world is suffering.  It needs Him, it needs love, but it also needs truth.  When I picture Jesus’ walk to Calvary, He leads the crowd to the hill.  We need to do the same.  We need to lead the crowd to Him.

The message of the Gospel isn’t easy to live out.  It isn’t easy to hear or to share.  I know my life doesn’t always reflect it, I’m not the best witness.  There’s still plenty of room for improvement.

The world wants us to live one way, to behave however we want, to say that everything is permissible.  We know that to be false.  We know that there is a better way.  I can eat all the junk food I want, but that won’t make me healthy (or lose weight).

Exercise your mind.  Work out your body.  Grow in spirit.