There is a brutal honesty that a Christian must subject his or herself to. It is a painfil exahsting process that exacts of each follower a new death everyday.
31(AG) But if we judged[h] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord,(AH) we are disciplined[i] so that we may not be(AI) condemned along with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:31-32 ESV)
23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
(A) Try me and know my thoughts![a]
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and(B) lead me in(C) the way everlasting![b]
(Psalm 139:24 ESV)
There is paradox in the Christian. We are each called to scrutinize ourselves with a brutal sincerity, to judge ourselves truly. Yet on the other hand Christ calls us forth with these words,
28(A) Come to(B) me, all who labor and are(C) heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and(D) learn from me, for I am(E) gentle and lowly in heart, and(F) you will find rest for your souls.
(Mathew 11:28-29 ESV)
There is a tension between the agonizing scrutiny and the gentle invitation to rest. We have all felt the weight of and the burden of those moments of where all our faults and belimishes are so clear. I would also risk to say that we have all felt that highstrung feeling in our chest when we are forced to sit back and think, "what am I doing wrong?". Then there is the sweet release of coming to that point where forgivness and compassion is poured out to us. The weight is lifted and that tension fades in a moment of sweet relief.
One does not have to look to far to find a commentator that would condemn any religion or spirituality that causes such cycles of guilt and relief in people. Why adhere to a faith that places such a burden on you, and then turns and calls that burden rest? Why live a life of constant guilt and constant scrutiny? Do we not want life to be free and happy? Do we not want our best life now? Look at the world, at all the problems and all the hungry suffering people. Why spend time on guilt when we could be spending time out there in the ruckus and swing of things?
I dare to answer that question with a drug. Self rightieousness.
What compels me to do what I know is right? I could string together a list of appropriate answers that we have all heard before, and i suppose that they would suffice. But I have to be honest, for a Christian is only worth their weight in truth. You want to know what compels me, the high of self rightieousness. I feel better about myself and I feel important when I do what I think is right. In some wrong headed way, I think it helps me escape from the person I am afraid I am, and I think that it makes up for all the things I have done in the past.
Self rightieousness and the high that it brings, truly is like a drug. Eventually the high wears off and you have to go out and do "better" and "better" things to get that feeling back again. Eventually nothing matters if it doesnt give you that feeling that somehow you have made it, that you diserve to feel good about who you are and that you diserve to expect others to respect who you are.
But what happens when that high wears off, will i still do what i know to be right, or will all my fained goodness fade away? Is that really what it means to follow Christ? I cannot accept that following Jesus is essentially a matter of my own selfishness, and I will not deny that the more I try to follow where Jesus goes, I realize that there is no real goodness of my own.
I must ask the question, will I still do what I know to be pleasing to the heart of God when there is no recognition, no high, no appreciation or greatness? Will I still follow the Lord even when doing so makes no sense, and all it brings me is rejection? Perhapse I will follow after Him if I can look forward to some glorious martyr death, but what if following jesus means nothing for me but the averege monotonous life, day in and day out with no glory, no great battles to be won and a slow march towards a common grave? I dare not say that as I am now, I would still follow Jesus into the monotony of the average midwestern life. I desperatly want to be someone!
There I have said it! I am a selfish, self rightieous hypocrit, Christian. And even now I run the risk of thinking more of my self than I should because I have, at least, admitted what I am, "unlike other people". Even now I am still stuggling to hold on to the last wisps of my own pride. Kaitlin, my dear wife, how you know this to be true.
This scrutiny is unrelenting, and the truth in its findings is undeniable. So I suppose I have nothing left to confess this wretched fact, that I am a wretched sinner. And dont get me wrong, I am not just saying "sinner" in that pious sense that some how gets around the reality of what it means to be dirty, sweaty, smelly, and in real need of a bath.
It is at this point where I am beckoned to come to Christ and to the cross and find my rest at the foot of Calvary. There I am called to die, and to step into that fountain and get the good washing I need. And when I finally come to see what I truly am, His love for me will actully mean more than billboard words, or religous jargon. His love for me will be what compels and comforts me, and His death will be my life. Any addict of a drug will tell that withdrawl can be worse than dying, and that the process of coming off a drug can be agonizing and yet sweet relief. So it is true that to come off of the drug of self rightieousness means death itself and yet in that harsh scrutiny that eluminates the addiction, we also find the voice that calls to us that we may rest. Once we come and die, we will truly live in that rest and the only weight to bare will be the weight of glory and the immesurable burden of God's untatiable love
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