If you hang out on social media for any length of time, you’ll come across a variation on this supposedly simple rule.
And I’d love to be able to say yeah, sure, it’s simple, why can’t people… but I know myself. I know I have those moments…
A standing joke we have at home comes from the way my very literal mind takes it when my husband calls me his “nice wife” – to my literal mind that phrasing implies he has more than one wife, so I’ve been known to say: what about the nasty one? or to inform him that she’s hiding in the cupboard under the stairs.
But joking aside – the nasty one exists for real, and once in a while she gets out… When I’m tired, hungry, stressed… then it’s a lot harder to follow that rule: my inner jerk shows up, uninvited, and reminds me of what I’m really like on the inside.
Which ultimately fills me with joy.
Because here’s the thing: through Jesus I have the love of God, and his love is unconditional, not depending on me being good enough – God doesn’t withhold his love until I live up to rules like “don’t be a jerk” or “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. No, God knows exactly how much of a jerk I am and he loves me anyway! He knows all the evil I’ve ever done, not to mention all my evil thoughts – and his answer is: here, I’ve sent my Son to take on the punishment you deserve, because I love you.
So when I see signs of my evil, selfish, self-centred, sinful, jerky nature, it reminds me of the awesome grace I’ve received from God, and it drives to very loud grateful halleluiahs!
It also drives me to confess my sin to God and ask him to help me do better. I do this knowing that my sin has already been dealt with on the cross, once and for all, and God’s forgiveness for me is a done deal. And knowing that the Holy Spirit will help me to do better. He’s been changing me from the inside over the years, I’m not the same person I was when he started working on me, I’m definitely a lot less of a jerk than I used to be – the nasty me is spending more and more time in the cupboard under the stairs and she shows up a lot less frequently… but she still exists, and every time she shows up I’m reminded of this wonderful truth:
He came and died to save sinners. Jerks. Selfish people. Rebels against God. Not people who have got it all sorted and are able to follow the “don’t be a jerk” rule 24/7 – as if there is anyone who can… No, he came for people like you and me. He died for evil, selfish humans. And on the third day he rose again, and in him we can have life, eternal life in which we can rejoice in the undeserved, unearned love of God for jerks like us.
There’s room in God’s kingdom for the nasty me – through faith in Jesus I’m in, even though I am sometimes a jerk.
There’s room for you too. Just as you are. Come on in!