We all know one… in fact, you may be one — A STUCK-UP CHRISTIAN.
What is it about religion and religious culture that, over time, makes people have a superiority complex?
I’ll tell you what it’s not… it’s not the Bible that creates it.
According to Scripture, we’re not better than anyone. All have been weighed, tested and found wanting (Romans 3:9-20). In fact, we’re even told that one day Jesus is going to give us the cross and every single knee will bow and every single tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is the only worthy, righteous, holy, awesome Lord.
There is something in church culture, however, that creates an “us vs. them” mentality.
US vs. THEM
And so, what we end up doing, if it’s us verses them, is we view ourselves as no longer bowing down with the masses of sinner and saved sinners, but instead we get to stand up and lean against the cross, looking down on the “bad people,” and scolding, “Come on, get right. If you guys knew what I knew you’d get right.”
That’s the anti-gospel.
The Gospel levels the competitive playing field. The Gospel drops us all to the level of dirt-eaters in the presence of the Almighty.
We don’t belong on an elevated plane, but down on the ground, with great joy, compelling those who are fighting with all their intellect, emotion and will to keep themselves from the reckless abandonment of self-control and self-worship saying, “Come on, there’s room. There’s room. He’ll accept you. He’s trust worthy. He’s worth it. Fall down beside me… there’s room… there’s room.”
The end result is, we look pompous and sad and all the things that are really an enemy of what Jesus wants to do.
THE THING THAT STUCK US UP
I’ve often wondered how we, in church culture, become this way but it’s really not a mystery… we’ve forgotten what sin actually is and how we’ve been effected by it.
We make little of our own sin in the church by making much of the sin in the lost and dying world, and when that proves to be insufficient, we create rules about beer and clothing and music and conduct and (the list could go on and on).
The end result is that we, in the church, not only believe ourselves to be better than the lost and dying in the world, but now we make ourselves enemies of brothers and sisters in Christ.
What ever happened to the heart of men like Charles Haddon Spurgeon who once said in a sermon, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
So, what’s the solution?
Well, look at the apostle Paul. In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about how the Lord gave him a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul asks God three times to remove the thorn, but instead the Lord says to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Notice the reason given for the provision of the thorn. Could it be that the Lord gives us weaknesses to keep us from becoming conceited?
Paul went on to write, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
How often do we boast about our own weaknesses?
Instead of elevating ourselves, we should be elevating the only one to whom glory and praise is due. We need to be stuck-down, on the ground, worshipping in the fact that we do not receive what we all deserve.
We need to have the heart of Charles Spurgeon as we lay on the ground in worship, compelling those around us, while there is still time, to join us in humble recognition of who we are and what God has done for us in spite of it all.
We need to die to ourselves and put Jesus Christ in place of our self-esteem, self-worth, self-righteousness, self-serving hearts and attitudes.
We need to live in the reality of who we actually are in comparison to the King of kings and in light of the coming Kingdom of God.