“No virtue can be great if it is not constant.”-Alfonso Milagro
It was an awesome team. Frozone, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Teddy Roosevelt, and Happy Feet the Penguin were all being led to victory by my lovely wife. She and I were on the team too; she as a player/manager. We all performed nearly flawlessly under her direction as she balanced and swayed, directing the movements. No it wasn’t a dream. No it wasn’t a vision. No it wasn’t an hallucination.
It was the Wii. It was our Mii characters. It was awesome.
Wii games are the best of all worlds: my favorite characters from literature, film, history and cartoons each created by me as a Mii and all aligning themselves consistently with my commands within the games I choose.
If only life were so aligned. If only people could be who they were created to be. If only I, you, me, we could be as consistent.
I’m constantly amazed by how many teens sit across from me and tell me that they hate their parents. You know what the number one reason is that a teen hates a parent? It’s because they say the parent behaves one way in public where people are watching but another way entirely when at home behind closed doors. Consistency is everything to teens.
Inconsistency produces one of the most dangerous results possible; it produces a person that is not believable. And a person that isn’t believable is worse than a person who is blatantly hurtful because being unbelievable is to be dishonest.
To be blatantly hurtful or evil is at least truthful and honest. To be inconsistent, one person in public and another in private, is to be a living lie. From what I can see, nothing does more damage than inconsistency. This is not only true in parenting; it’s true in spirituality.
If you claim a belief in God, to a non-believer who’s watching, you cast God in your light much more than He casts you in His light. This is something I’ve been self-aware of recently. People watching me aren’t trying to see me through the eyes of God. They’re trying to see God through the haze of my actions, attitudes and words. They might be trying to decide if God could be real based on me. If I follow this God who I claim is pure love and selfless in His sacrifice, but then they see me acting selfishly, self-righteously or in self-promotion, then why should they believe my claims about God.
Just as teens complain of inconsistent parents, the number one complaint I hear about God is that Christians often act so inconsistently that God must not be making much of a difference or that God can’t exist if His followers can’t even show who He is. I’m afraid nothing makes God look any worse than inconsistent Christians do. I can do a fair job answering questions about a world full of evil, death, disease and poverty but I stumble when trying to explain why so few Christians consistently look like their Leader. I have trouble trying to figure it out about myself on some days.
I know that God is good. I know that very often I am not good and that I can’t be perfect. But I also know that God deserves to be represented in a fair light. He deserves my best response to His love; a response that shows consistently who He is, in my words, attitudes and actions. I know that people will see God through me before they come to see Him for themselves. I know I need to take that more seriously.
And don’t accuse me of saying that you have to be perfect. Don’t tell me people should look to God and not at you. Don’t tell me your bad attitude is ‘just who you are’ and that you can’t change it. Don’t tell me I sound spiritually legalistic and that I don’t understand grace. Those are excuses to let yourself off the hook on being a more consistent picture of God. I often do the same.
It’s not easy; I understand that. And I understand and believe that grace will cover your inconsistencies. But I also believe that God’s grace is not cheap grace and that I, you, me, we need to live out our lives as a consistent picture of His grace with consistently gracious mouths, touches, minds and hearts that make God believable.
I can name people who I think are doing this already. I hope more of us will be inspired to be real…soon. If you’re a fellow Christian, please accept this toe-stomping as I intended it: to include me and you both and to be a challenge. If you’re not a believer in God, please accept my apologies for all the times that we, who claim to be followers of Jesus, have made Him to look like someone not worth following.
Frozone and Shaggy, Teddy and Happy Feet, Michelle and I, look the same everyday on the Wii. I want to look the same everyday in real life too.
You yourselves are a case study of what He (God) does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message-just this one.
–from Paul the Apostle, in his letter to the Colossians,
the first chapter, verses 21-23, in The Message translation