Missing the Mark

Are your lights and stockings hung by the chimney with care? Well, ours are. We are fully charging into holiday cheer at my house. Just like I talked about in my last post, I’ve decided to be intentional about finding Joy this season. However, I probably need to stop buying things with the word “Joy” on them because there’s officially no room at the McCarthy Inn anymore. We’re booked solid with joyful nicknacks. 

Growing up Catholic, religious holidays were often a mixed bag of emotions for me. The excitement of family and tradition also came with the weight of guilt and shame over all the sin in my life. The Holy Sacrament of Confession that was part of our Catholic school’s Christmas Mass loomed over the holiday. It was like waiting for Judgement Day. Every carol sung silently ended with, “till you receive your penance and scolding…fa la la la la la la la la!”

It’s impossible to change old mindsets until you intentionally build new ones.

A friend of mine shared a message with me by Andy Stanley about sin. It’s a pretty good listen. Andy talks about how the word “sin” is not defined as a death sentence or even a permanent mark of disqualification. In both Hebrew and Greek, the word sin means “to miss the mark,” and in both languages, it’s an archery term that means to miss the bullseye.

Who hits the bullseye every time? Not this guy. So, what gives in this God standards game? Scripture says that Jesus will be the final judge at the end of time. Personally, I think the baby Jesus part of Christmas is way more engaging than the Jesus at Easter. I mean, who doesn’t love a baby? But, the celebration gets a bit flat when we start celebrating a judge. That is until we look at His record on the bench. He came to love. That’s it. Love.

When He taught, He did it in love. When He served, He did it in love. When He corrected, He did it in love. When He died, He did it in love.

So, why have I been living with shame and embarrassment when I miss the mark?

Our God speaks in conviction, not condemnation. Conviction is direct coaching done in love. Condemnation is to remind you of your flawed, subordinate, and inferior place. Jesus calls us a royalty, His Sons and Daughters, and His Beloved. He was perfect, so we don’t have to be, and I think that’s the best Christmas gift and reason to be joyful this season.

Cheers to missing the mark!

We will get through this together.

In His service and at yours!
~Shawn 

Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

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