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Thursday, 27 November 2014

I'm A Better Christian?

Have you ever heard anyone proclaim that before? I have, just not in terms of audible words. I've heard it through their actions and through more veiled words. It's always interesting to see and unfortunately I've caught myself acting as if I am a 'better Christian' at times. But reality (and God) set in and help correct me fortunately.

I was driving to work yesterday, wrestling with some of my doubts about God's timing for certain events and relationships with people and asking whether he was really in the timing of the next two weeks. As I neared work, my thoughts turned to the concept of life and how it can be so tragically short (for whatever reason). It was then that I heard him say so clearly 'seize the moment.' Not that he was saying that death is approaching (that was my own thoughts wrestling with events I have seen happen in the past week), just that he was encouraging me not to wait around on events.

If you've ever seen the film Dead Poet's Society then you might recall the phrase 'carpe diem' Latin for 'seize the day'. It was that same concept that God sent resonating in my soul and now I can't stop thinking about it. Many of my doubts of late that I have been turning over to God have been about timing, and while I trust his timing to be perfect, that's tough. For him to tell me to 'seize the moment'? That was powerful and it gives me hope that yes, now is the time to act with a passionate urgency.

I once saw this Derren Brown experiment (and while I can't condone or recommend all he does some of it is interesting) about luck. I posted the video link at the bottom for anyone interested in such things (it is a full 45 minutes or so). The conclusion that he drew about 'luck' is that lucky people are those who seize opportunities around them with both hands. Those people who consider themselves to be unlucky are those who ignore the opportunities around them.

This has remained so fascinating to me because I have often wondered why it is that some people seem to have all the luck in the world and others have no luck at all. Obviously this provides a rational explanation, however there's no doubt a more spiritual explanation about God's favour and blessing! That those who choose to follow his guidance, despite any setbacks, can truly seize the moment before them and walk in true blessings.

But how does this all tie into the idea of being a 'better Christian' however? Well let me ask you: have you ever known a Christian who has in any sense judged or disqualified someone from following Christ on a particular basis? Appearance, background, habits, lifestyle? You no doubt would have, and you've probably unconsciously done the same thing - even if it was thinking 'I'm glad I'm not like that person.'

You see, as people we tend to judge even if we try and be open minded. But in doing so we just fall back into following the natural law - the law that none of us can fulfill. In Luke 18 Jesus provided a story of two different individuals: the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
Luke 18:10-14
10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It's clear that Jesus really sought to address the religious spirit in those around him, to remind people that before God none are righteous. That is none are righteous unless they accept Christ. So you know what that means? There are no 'better' or 'worse' Christians. There are only the righteous and the unrighteous. Good and evil become mere ethical concepts because I know that in myself I am not good and my actions amount to evil in the sight of God: but grace covers over all that sin.

The revelation I had last night is this: when we look at someone and see their actions and deem them to be 'less Christian' or something similar we essentially are subscribing ourselves to God's commandment law yet again. And when we do such a thing we ourselves cannot be Christian in the slightest. Further, when we judge in such a way it's us saying that the grace of God doesn't have enough power to cover the sins of another person.

I'm not saying that actions are not important. They are: I spent a whole couple of blog posts talking about how faith without action is dead and that Christianity needs to be active. What I am saying is that we can't use the gospel as a tool for behavior modification - to get people to look, talk and act as Christian. Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman provides a great argument about that attitude when it comes to Christian music.  Essentially it all comes down to you following Christ and making him Lord. Am I a better Christian? No of course not. I don't believe there can be any such thing, but I am trying to follow him more and more. So when he spoke and said 'seize the moment', well...that's what I want to do.