Missing the Mark

A couple weeks ago my mom through a friend a going-away party for her family at our house. The family’s friends and family all came- most of which were strangers to us. The family has a young teenage daughter, and she spent time in our house with a couple of her friends.

I sat on my couch across from the table they were sitting at. I was doing some work on my computer when I heard, “I’m pretty sure the Bible was written by someone who was homophobic, judgmental…” and a list of other things I don’t remember. I contemplate for a second whether or not I should chime in, but I felt it my duty to help one of God’s children know the truth about Him, not the ignorant ideas heard from others.

I looked up and calmly stated that the Bible was written by many different people over thousands of years. She didn’t like that. She proceeded to walk over to me with her head stuck out like a giraffe.

“Did you know there is gay couple in the Bible,” she matter-of-factly asked.

Honestly, I was pretty shocked to here someone say that so certainly. I took a deep breath and told her that I was pretty sure there was not one, though I am not studied-up on the old testament, and I explained that Paul says in Romans homosexuality comes from our own evil desires. I told her the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, how the men wanted to have sex with the angel before the city was destroyed.

She didn’t like that, either.

“Do you own any gold jewelry,” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“That’s a sin,” she told me.

I cocked my head, catching myself not so become frustrated, angry, judgmental, or proud but sympathetic. I explained to her that I was nearly 100% sure that owning gold is not sinning against God, but the Bible does say that we don’t need it and out beauty comes from within, not from fancy jewelry (1 Peter 3:3-4). I admitted that I was not expert, and the old testament could say something about the wearing of gold (I haven’t found a scripture saying so after the matter), but we live under grace now. I started to explain the old and new testaments and Jesus’ sacrifice when she stopped to make the “so Mary had a little lame” joke and walked away.

I know the Holy Spirit was speaking through me when I was talking with her, but I was very proud of myself for being patient and not defensive. I made a strong conscious effort to do so; however, after the conversation I met my grandma outside and blurted out, “a girl just tried to tell me there was a gay couple in the Bible, and I had to set her straight.”

Did I really just say that?

I felt so ashamed. Pride enveloped my heart, which it so often does. I had been working all summer to grow closer to God and become more like Christ, and just when I thought I had acted like Jesus, I missed the point of my actions, intentions, and attitude for the previous conversation: to live out the Love of Jesus in order to teach others.

That week while working as a counselor at summer camp, a shot a few rounds of archery with my campers. I have attended the camp for ten years, doing archery every time, and had yet to get a bull’s eye. I was determined. I aimed, pulled back the arrow with all my might, and released dozens of times. Some times I shot somewhere on the big plastic targets on the hay bales, and other times my arrow would fly over the hay completely. The more I practiced, however, the closer I was to hitting the center of the target.

Just before out archery time was up, I intently aimed my arrow exactly where I wanted it. I focused, took a deep breath and released. As I lowered my bow I saw that I shot the desired bull’s eye! Barely, it wasn’t in the exact center of the target, but it was in the center circle. I might have yelled in excitement.

The word “sin” is actually an archery term in Hebrew meaning “to miss the mark.” To sin against God, go against his commands, is to miss the goal God has for our lives. God has commanded us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 20:26, 1 Peter 1:16). Every instruction he gives us, every command, he have given to help us achieve holiness.

For example:

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), which includes being patient, kind, humble, trusting and everything else listen in 1 Corinthians 13.

Ten commandments (Exodus 20)

IMG_7673Look after orphans and widows and keep yourself from conforming to the world (James 1:27)

Go make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20)

All Christians stumble. Sometimes it feels that no matter how much I practice or how hard I focus on aiming correctly, I still miss the mark. I still mess up and sometimes I forget Who I’m playing for.

Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God knew we would be terrible archers, so He sent the most compassionate referee to forgive and erase our scattered arrows and return them for unlimited chances. So we press on towards to goal, continue practicing, and we gradually become better at following Christ’s example. Because of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, we have a hope that one day we will be perfect archers, just as He.

Though I was extremely disappointing in myself for my actions after the conversation with the teenage girl, I know that God forgives me and will give me countless more opportunities to be a light for him. It took me 10 years to get a bull’s eye at camp, but it’s going to take a lifetime until I gain a crown of glory.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the price for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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