For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39

Creating a Monster

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I DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU TRY THIS AT HOME! Really, don’t repeat this process anywhere, anytime. I share this with you as forewarning, based on my own experience with these creatures. Even though they are imaginary, they still seem very powerful and can cause much havoc to heart and mind.

They’re very easy to construct. They can get really gross, really fast, and are hard to control once they’re full grown. But here goes:

To create your own imaginary monster start with a real person. It may be a friend or family member. It may be a stranger. It can be someone you’re close to, or someone you’ve barely met.

Next, watch the monster begin to transmogrify by stirring in a small critique of this person. The critique can be a true issue that someone is struggling with. Or, the critique may be a fiction of your own imagination–something you “sense”.

Now, the monster slowly begins to emerge. This person, maybe a friend or acquaintance, who seemed so normal, starts looking a little misshapen. Toss in a little critique here, a little gossip there, throw in some random conversations from the past that now suddenly seem to indicate a pattern, and…BOOM!…Out comes the monster! This perfectly normal person, now looms in the imagination as a big, scary monster that needs to be stopped!

How often have I constructed this beast in my mind, taking a small issue and blowing it out of proportion until I now see it as an insurmountable character flaw that needs to be corrected in someone’s life.

The truth is, I’m the nutty professor, the mad scientist, playing God and Holy Spirit by trying to see into another’s heart without taking a deep look into my own.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

–Luke 6:41-42

It is extremely hard to de-construct this monster! Each encounter adds another level of ugliness in my mind. Every act of kindness offered must have some ulterior motive. At best, I keep a safe distance. Often the relationship is strained, or worse, severed because of my insensitive imaginings. I may express “concern” to others, when really the sick fact is that I get sort of a kick out of seeing the bizarre shape my monster is taking. Then, frustration rises because the person is “not getting any better”. Bitterness and resignation sets in so that any ability to truly help is hidden under layers and layers of imagined slime, disfigurement and scaly skin.

What I’ve effectively done is build such a profile of this person that it’s hard to look at them and see them for who they are. Instead, I see them as I’ve made them out to be. Rather than God’s beautiful creation, made in His image to show forth His glory, I see the grotesque monster that’s out to get me or others and needs to be handled quickly before it hurts someone.

The wonderful opportunity to serve a brother or sister by praying for them, pointing them to Christ in a gracious and loving way, pursuing genuine Christian fellowship with them is really there, but seems lost at the moment.

So, how do you get rid of this thing?! It’s so simple, yet hard to do at the outset. If I only did this one thing right up front, the monster would never emerge. All I have to do is take one giant step back and to the side, so I can look at their situation from a different vantage point! Even as huge and gross as the monster seems, a different angle makes all the difference. Maybe my vision was skewed because that image of the monster is really a reflection of my own judging heart. Maybe I’m looking through sin-stained glasses that need to be cleaned. Regardless, with just a different perspective from which to view my brother or sister, by God’s grace, I can see the real person and minister grace to them. I remember that I really was that grotesque monster before Christ transformed me. I filter out the lies and exaggerations and accept my brother or sister just as Christ has accepted me.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

–Romans 15:7

Author: Kristie

Kristie is a pastor's wife, mom, Bible teacher, and author of His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God, which will be released in September. She currently serves as the Associate Director of Women's Workshops for the Charles Simeon Trust, helping to equip women Bible teachers. She joyfully supports her husband of almost 28 years, Thabiti, as he pastors Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC. They have 3 children. She has written contributions to the ESV Women's Devotional Bible; Word-Filled Women's Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church; Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved and Neglected; and Hospitality Matters: Reviving an Ancient Practice for Modern Missions. Her work can also be found at The Front Porch, The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, Christianity Today, and Revive Our Hearts. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@kanyabwile).

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