When Good is Covered With Mud

Introduction

What do you think happens when someone that you thought was a good person begins doing things that are not considered good? What happens to a person that you know is a Christian, but yet something has gone awry with him and he is simply not the good person that you once knew? What do you do when a Christian goes bad or you notice signs of him or her going "bad?"

Life even for a Christian is not easy. Fortunately we have the Lord to help us and to put our faith in. Even still there are many situations that can result in a person losing their way. The extent of this is dependant on a number of things including, but not limited to our relationship with God, our disposition on life, our maturity, and our psychological makeup at any given time. Sometimes someone could loose their way so much that they declare that they have turned their backs on God. Now this article isn't going to examine whether or not a person can lose their salvation or not. I am more concerned about the practical issues of life from a Christian perspective and perhaps what we can do to deal with them.

The Good

There is a man named Ronald who is a nice man by general human standards. He had a very great sense of humor and he was really easy to get along with. It was rare to see Ronald angry or upset even though you knew there were times when something was wrong. However, Ronald would never express his anger, disappointment, or unhappiness, but would instead be the happy guy you are used to seeing.

Ronald is also a Christian and he loves God and demonstrates that he loves people too. He is quick to help you even to the extent of sacrificing for your sake. He used to teach Sunday school at his church, and he is very active in various aspects of ministry. Many people look up to Ronald because he is model of a good Christian.

Ronald is well liked on his job and in his community. He headed the cub scouts and he coached the soccer team at his local school. Ronald was very instrumental in organizing a community relieve system for those who are victims of crime or natural disasters. One could easily say that Ronald is a very nice guy in his community and is well loved.

Another good thing about Ronald is that he is a family man. He respects and loves his wife and is very supportive of his kids. You will never hear Ronald talk deragorily about his wife or family in general. He appears to have a happy home life and is a model husband and father.

Ronald is an all around good guy. He is a Christian who loves the Lord and lives by the saying, "Love God with all of your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." He loves God and people. You'd love to have him as your friend or mentor and women would love to have a husband like him.

The Change

Something is different about Ronald these days. You start to realize that Ronald isn't the same person that you once knew him to be. He doesn't seem happy any longer and you can sense the tension in him. There is something bothering him on the inside, but you can't put your finger on it. He isn't involved with church as he once was and he isn't doing as much community service as he used to. Perhaps he is tired and just needs rest. Perhaps all of that activity caught up with him. At least that is how you rationalize his behavior.

Then one day it happens. You are sitting with Ronald and other friends and he says something very wierd. He says, "They deserve to be shot in the head and left to die in the street." You think to yourself, "I've never heard Ronald talk like that before." Perhaps he is in a bad mood so you don't think too much of it. However, one day you are at a basketball game with Ronald and he turns to you to tell you how fine that young lady over there looks. Now you are really concerned. Remember that Ronald is married and you thought he was happily married. You think to yourself, perhaps he has marital problems and is just angry at his wife or something. You take his comment seriously, but you don't think too much of it. Perhaps it is just a one-time thing.

The problem now is Ronald's strange comments seem to increase. Not only that, but he doesn't attend church anymore. He spends a lot of time at work and doesn't appear to be happy at all. You approach Ronald and ask him what is going on. He of course says, "nothing" and then changes the subject. You ask others if they noticed a change in Ronald and everyone says they have noticed a change. They all agree that Ronald appears distant and apathetic. He doesn't appear happy any longer.

One evening there is a knock at your door. It is late and you try to reason who it might be. You go to the door and look out the peep hole and you see that it is Ronald! You quickly open the door and notice Ronald standing there with a really strange look on his face. Upon further observation you notice that his clothes are all messed up and his shirt is torn. You invite him in and now you can see something is very wrong. Not only is his clothes in disarray, you see that he is cut and looks like he's been in a fight. You ask him, 'What happened, Ron?" Ronald begins to tell you how he got into an argument and beat up someone (Ronald is an avid martial artists and has learned several styles of kung fu, boxing, and wrestling). He also tells you that he thinks he is in a lot of trouble. He thinks he severly hurt the guy and that he may need to be hospitalized. Ronald is afraid that he is in trouble with the law.

You are floored by what Ronald has told you. You can't believe that such a fun loving all around good guy could possibly do something like this. You don't know what to say. You have no words. You want to comfort him, but you honestly don't know what to say? How do you confort someone who has typically been the one doing the comforting. How do you give advise to someone who has always given advise. You wish you had a button that you could push such that his problems would go away and time would turn back for him so that he could take another path. But how did Ronald get on this path in the first place?

Changing Courses

A change in a person's disposition will most likely result in a change of the path that he or she is on. This can be seen by the change of behavior. I had a friend once who was a nice guy. I enjoyed the time spent with him. However, I soon realized that you had to listen to what he said under his breath. Those statements were significant and provided a glimpse of what was going on inside of him. His course did change as I found out later. Life affected him in a big way.

Back to Ronald. You talked to Ron and he begins to tell you what was going on with him. He begins to open up. He told you that several years ago he became disillusioned with goodness. He said that he spent so much time in his life being actively good towards people, but he always found himself fending for himself when problems would come. The only people that seemed to really care about him were his parents and close family. He said that he began to be apathetic about his marriage, his ministry, and people for the most part. He said he became increasingly frustrated and didn't know where to turn or how to express himself because of the highe expectations people placed on him. Now you understand his comments about the "fine young lady" and about shooting the people in the head.

Ronald said that for the most part he was alone. His next statement really scares you. He said that he didn't think that God cared about him anymore. He began to dought if God even exists. He reasoned that if God exists then why wouldn't he come to his rescue. Why wouldn't he help him. He has face so many troubles and he thought that he should have had some relief given all the good that he tried to do. He said that he stopped reading his bible a long time ago, but would always go back to it. He said that God was ingrained in him so there was no way to separate himself from him. However, his feelings about the Christian life was much different now. He couldn't stand to hear another minister talk about faith and he said that he definitely didn't want to be bothered with the church scene any longer. The church was useless to him. They contributed nothing to him after he had given so much of his life to it. He then says something astonishing and something that you would never have dreamed that Ronald would say. He segued right into, "To hell with church."

He said that he wished all preachers would be strung up and shot. He said that he's tired of those charlatans and wished they would all burn in hell. He rambles on like a dump truck emptying its load and said that he thought about Budhism once. However, he couldn't shake his faith in God. He could turn his back on God because he believes in him. However, Ronald said that he doesn't believe that God is the person that those quacks talk about in church. They talk about how God will make everything right and how faith will solve every problem. What a bunch of hypcrites and liars. Your mouth is open to the floor in disbelief because these things aren't coming from some guy on the street. They are coming fron Ronald.

You ask him, "What happened? How did all of this start? How did you come to thinking like this?" He looks you in the face and says, "I don't know." He said that he knew something was wrong years ago. He hated coming home, he hated going to church, and he wished he could live alone in the woods if that was possible. He didn't have a passion fof the things that he once was vehement about. He didn't know what it meant to be happy was and he didn't know what love was any longer. Everything was about duty. Do your job and I'll do mine. Does God only care about what we do? Doesn't God care about me? Ron stands up and takes a swing at the air and let's out a loud obscenity (F&^%). He is breathing hard and looks like he could kill the world. He calms down and sits back down, but now he looks like he is about to cry for years. Oh boy, you think. Something is really wrong with Ron.

Ron appears to be on a completely different path than he was on years ago. He used to be happy or at least he seemed to be. He used to love life and love people or at least that's the way it seemed. He used to be caring, kind and gentle, but now he is talking about killing people and shooting people. What happened to Ron?

The Signs

I am reminded of something that Jesus said.

Matthew 13:22 (NKJV) {22}Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

Life has a way of changing us. The various situations that we deal with affects us. We should not expect a person that faces the same thing day after day to not be affected by it. For example, a husband who has to endure a nagging wife year after year or a wife who has to endure an abusive husband day after day. These things affects us and they manifest themselves in the things that we do.

I remember I was asked by someone during a pre-marital counseling session how someone could leave their spouse after thirty or so years of marriage. It seems really strange that after 30 years that someone would suddently want to leave their husband. However, if you consider the dedication the wife had in the marriage, the many things that she tried to improve things over the years, and the abuse that she endured during those years then you can see how one day she decides to endure it no longer. It wasn't an all of a sudden thing, but rather it was gradual. Her friends may have noticed her becoming more depressed or unhappy. She might have been withdrawn or whatever. The change took place gradually and there were signs that of what was going on inside of her.

What do you do when you are beaten down by life? What should you do when you find yourself on a path that is not leading to happiness or fulfillment? What should a husband do when he finds he doesn't feel the same way about his wife as he once did or vice versa? It's not easy to deal with these things, but there are definite signs that something is wrong even if we were to evaluate ourselves. I like something that Paul said.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Can you relate to the story about Ron in any way. Perhaps you notice a change in yourself or someone that is close to you. The interesting thing is that the change did not happen over night. There were signs. There were symptoms that something was going awry. Sometimes those signs go unnoticed and sometimes they are ignored. Sometimes people like Ron just doesn't know what to do about it.

What do you see when you look at someone. A pastor once told me that we have to look at a person below the skin to really see the person. We have to see the inner person. Have you ever met someone and immediately felt uneasy about him or her? Have you ever met someone and felt immediately at peace and things just clicked? That's what I'm talking about. People are more than flesh and blood, but a living soul.

Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) {7}And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

We should evaluate ourselves to see where we are. Surely we should examine ourselves to see if we are on the righteous path or not since life and the flesh has a way of sneaking in. However, we can also evaluate ourselves to see if we are on track with our goals and our life in general. Are progressing in your marriage relationship, educational endeavors, your job, ministry, etc.? A cousing of mine would say that we have to take inventory of ourselves sometimes.

Let's get back to Ronald. His friends and family couldn't necessarily know that those signs indicated that there was a serious problem. For example, they may have noticed that he didn't have the happy disposition that he had in the past. He wasn't as outgoing or he seemed to pull away from social activities. Definitely his disposition appeared to change. Overall Ron was not the same person. Now what do you do? Do you ask him what's the matter? Do you try to find out what's bothering him if anything at all? Do you pry?

The Response

What is your response when you notice a change for the worse in someone? Your response to that person could make a big difference in his or her life. It is a good thing when you realize that someone does care about you. I believe that all people want to be accepted and loved. I believe that all people want others to want them and care about them. This gives us a sense of worth and boosts the self esteem. That is why your response could make a big difference in a person's life when he or she is going through trials.

Emotions and Righteousness

Do not underestimate the power of emotions. Emotions are a force to be reckoned with and they significantly affect the things that we do. A person that feels depressed and worthless may do weird things to heighten his worth, i.e., becoming noticed and paid attention to.