“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
Maybe it’s the fact that I just got done doing a solid 40-minute car dance session to an array of hip-hop songs, full of all the cuss words, that would make any conservative Christian shake their head….
Or, it’s the fact that news just hit about the Federal decision regarding the Equality Marriage Act and I feel a sense of happiness, not despair, as I think about my gay friends and family members…
Or, it’s the numerous other ways that I know I fail to “play the role” of the Christian person I know society might want me to play.
I struggle with feeling like I have “closet” behaviors and feelings that I’m “not supposed” to talk about or show because I’m a Christian and I am fearful of judgement. This feeling has popped-up several times in the last couple of weeks, so much so, that I know I need to address it.
But I want to be clear, I am not just making this statement because of the political changes that our nation is facing. I have to be honest and let you know that I am grossly unaware of the politics taking place and don’t have not solid intellectual basis to start making sound judgements or stating opinions, so I’m not going to here.
This is not because I don’t care about politics or policy, but it’s because there is too much darkness involved in politics and the media that covers it. As I started writing and investing in Spiritual growth, I made the conscious decision to cut out all things that do not help me shine my light brighter. News, politics, and all nonsense media and TV cast too large of a dark shadow in my Mind and Spirit and I better serve focusing on what is RIGHT with the world, not always what is wrong. It makes me naive in the best possible way and I’m ok with that.
I do know that a lot of these changes have fellow Christians in an uproar and seems to be causing another great divide among our nation… not that it’s anything new. But I want to address this reaction not only for a “gut check” for my fellow Christians, but also for my NON Christian friends who might think that all Christians think alike.
The rampant sin that I see causing so much anguish and division not only around the world, but in MY VERY heart is what’s called “CA” or “Christian Arrogance.” This is also known as the sin of being Self-Righteous.
I want to own up to the fact that just because I am a Christian, it does not mean that I don’t have sin. In fact, I think it means that I am more susceptible to the “sneaky sins” that wreck havoc on my soul but I choose not to see because it’s not “as bad” as some of the other “bigger sins” out there in the world.
But we must remember—-A sin is a sin is a sin.
So being self righteous is just as sinful as committing murder in the eyes of God. We must never forget that and never stop searching our hearts for our own destruction.
So here I go, me first.
MY SELF-RIGHTEOUS TENDENCIES:
When I was deciding to start my “Finding A. Wright Fit” blog this year, I was really conflicted and very fearful about being completely open and honest about my Christian Faith as I was trying to share my light and teach on Health for your Mind, Body and Soul.
I hated the idea of being secluded to a “Christian Box” that would invite in opportunity of judgement from both Non-Christians and Christians alike.
I was fearful that any Non-Christian would resent my use of the “J” word (i.e. Jesus) because clearly not all people in this world know and believe that Jesus is the Messiah. It would automatically ostracize anyone that did not share my belief and I did not want to eliminate the opportunity to impact those people’s lives that I truly want to reach the most.
BUT, even more so, I was fearful that all of potential CHRISTIAN readers would equally judge me based on my writing and would be checking to see that what I wrote and taught was “in line” with the Bible. I didn’t really feel “qualified” to Spiritually teach because I don’t know the Bible in-and-out despite having grown up going to church my whole life. My lack of theological knowledge made me insecure.
As you might know, I chose to boldly stepped over both of these fears and decided I must write in my authentic voice which will showcase my true faith that includes the fact that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I am nothing without Him. There is really no other way to talk about my Spirit of my health if He’s not included in it. Period.
Nevertheless, it was the FEARS I had that left me puzzled because I have actually never been persecuted for my Faith– so why should I have such fears or persecution?
It is partly that I have seen it in our culture, sure. I have witnessed Christians slandering one another when stating opinions about secular issues. I do see it on TV and see it on social media a lot.
But, I have to be honest and tell you I don’t think those reasons was the real cause to why I was so fearful of this potential judgement from Christians and non-Christians alike.
The reason why I think I was fearful about receiving judgement is because I AM JUDGMENTAL.
I fear things will be done to me that I secretly do to others….
When the Bible says, “Do not judge or you too will be judged” (Matt 7:1) this does not just refer to the fact that we will all be judged one day by God in Heaven, but I also think it means that when we put out judgement into the world, the world give us judgement right back.
Some call this the mirror effect or even karma, but I liken it best to the Newtons 3rd Law of Motion— for every action, there is an EQUAL and opposite reaction.
Not only can we see that this response occurs from our actions, but I also see that it creates the FEAR that it will happen, causing even more mental anguish.
- For example, we judge others bodies as we walk down the street, so we FEAR others judge our body as we walk down the street. This in turn causes us to act in insecure ways and worry too much about what we wear and how we look, becoming overly self-involved.
- We judge others for their “lack of faith” so we FEAR they will judge us too for our own faith. This in turn, causes actions of overcompensation and defensive behavior. We cast out judgements and point fingers.
POLARIZED INNER LIFE:
The truth is….
…as a Trainer and Nutritionist the more I read and learn, the more I am humbled to realize how much I don’t know. Even though I have a SOLID base for what has worked (and more often not worked) , I really have no authority to tell someone else what will or won’t work for them. I can really only coach them and help guide them to discover more for themselves.
Just the same, as a Christian and Spiritually minded person, the more I read the Bible, the more I see how very sinful I am! The more I see the areas that I must fix and address. So often the Spiritual advice I give my clients is the very advice I need to hear myself. I have no real “authority” of how to cultivate a relationship with God in your life, I can only do my best to guide you to God yourself.
But while I can write all of these things to you now and know they are true from my heart, I would be a liar if I didn’t also tell you that the opposite thoughts can just as easily control my mind and how I act.
There is this “self righteous” tendency, my EGO, that wants to also tell you, “Well, I’ve done all this research and read the Bible verse that says “_____,” and this clearly makes me more of an expert than you are, so listen to my opinion and follow my instructions!”
I do it all the time.
I have secret Christian Arrogance when I hope my husband doesn’t hang out with his atheist friends who I think might be “bad influences”; when I secretly judge the more “strict” religious people I know for being “too extreme”; when I use a Bible verse to help make a point of what someone “should not do” but coolly ignore the Bible for all the verses that point out all my sins; every time I gossip about someone; every time I am overbearing and demanding; every time I shift the blame of my problems to someone else…etc etc etc!!
THIS is what we will often see from my fellow Christians in a response to some of the social changes that take place as they try to use the Bible as ammunition.
If we want to use the Bible (which I DO wholeheartedly believe IS the Truth and the Word of God that all who follow Him must honor and follow as uncomfortable as it may be) then we must use ALL of the Bible. Not just those verses that help us to judge others for their “sinful” actions.
Paul writes to the Christian Romans, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.” (Romans 2:1)
That’s the thing that Christians need to start owning:
- We need to stop expecting Non-Christians to act like Christians—they DO have an excuse to be sinful because they are not saved and really don’t know any better.
- We need to own the fact that because we are saved, then we DON’T have an excuse for sin, because we actually know better.
Yes, we do want non-believers to become believers that is our great purpose and calling in this world. But, I don’t think pointing out ALL the things “they” are doing wrong is going to do it. When was the last time that worked for you?
THE ANSWER TO OUR OWN CHRISTIAN ARROGANCE:
We just work from WITHIN.
We must “take up our cross” and bear the weight of the sneaky sins that we often overlook as we point out the “greater sins” we see in the world around us.
If we want to see change in the world, we really must BE the change ourselves but not just “any change”…we must change for GOOD.
We must show humility, gentleness and above all LOVE.
This is what it means to be Christ-like….not just “Christian” from the religious perspective.
Our hope and salvation must rest wholly on HIM. Not on our laws, not on our Pastors, not on our Politicians, not on each other…. but on GOD alone and the salvation He gave us when He sent His son to show us the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and die for our sins so we might be saved.
If we are to follow Christ, we must take up our cross and bear it before others to show what it means to be a true disciple. It’s hard and it sucks, but this is what Faith is and living in Faith is always worth it. This is how we will live a blessed life full of fruit.
In closing, here is my prayer for this article and what it might stir inside you:
- I hope it simply makes you think less about “what’s wrong with the world” and more on “what’s wrong with me.” If you focus on our own sin first, the world will be better off. You can bet that this will take you anywhere from 23.5 to about 24 hours a day. So go ahead an get going on that….you’re a little behind. 🙂
- If you happen to be one of my friends that does not share in my beliefs and have expressed resentment toward the judgement or pushiness you have received from perhaps me or other religious people in your past, please accept this article as an apology on behalf of all of us that have screwed it up and made you feel this way. We were being self-righteous jerks.Not one of us can know what you are going through, how you were born, the circumstances you have faced and therefore “what you should do with your life.” But I love you and care about you and I want you to feel nothing but love, acceptance and joy for the rest of your life. Should you ever want to explore what a relationship with God that I have Faith will give you that kind of life, I will always be here to encourage you and show you how you can seek that for yourself. But if you don’t, I love you just the same, no matter what life you live.
If I may, I want to end in the same way that the well-known philosopher and theologian, G. K. Chesterton chose to answer the question posed by a London Times editorial years ago when asked,
“What’s wrong with the world?”
My answer: I am.