Few disclaimers once again because it’s really good to cover your basis.
1. This does not apply to everyone’s experience growing up in Christianity.
2. This is most definitely still a work in progress regarding the actual idea of Moral Christianity. I am doing my best to articulate exactly what I’ve been experiencing these past few months, but this is very open to input.
3. I’m a committed follower of Jesus. It’s all I care about in life.
These past few months in my life have been eye-opening to say the least. It’s been a very……interesting time. I say interesting because these few months I’ve had to rely so much on the unconditional love of Christ to fall back on. Sure, I’ve grown up in Christendom, and I’ve been told that nothing can separate me from the love of God, but I never really understood what that meant because, well, I never had to rely on that “unconditional” part. I’m not saying I was perfect, but I was morally “better” then most people. I didn’t have a crazy addiction, or didn’t manipulate people, I really didn’t mess around with girls. So to me, yeah Jesus loved me, and it was only by grace right? Well if I was honest with myself completely, I’d say deep down I really believed that because i was morally good, that God loved me more or a better way to put it was that God found more favor with me because I was an obedient Christian who didn’t do drugs, have sex, or curse. But really all that did was find me more favor with Christians, NOT with Jesus. Although I would never admit it, and part of that was not actually realizing that. It was the truth. Deep down I found myself more accepted by Jesus because of the way I lived my life. Not because I was forgiven by Jesus.
Well God has a funny way of humbling people. These past few months I have been a complete train wreck from a morality standpoint. I’ve been nothing but pretty much a failure in that department. And when your morality is linked to your thought process of how Jesus views you, it spells major major trouble. Going back and forth thinking “am I even a Christian” or “How can I even claim to be a follower of Jesus and still think this way, or do this thing”. It was sobering to realize that underneath the hood of what most people see as Tim Whitaker, is really nothing good. In fact left to myself and my own thoughts I’m manipulative, prideful, addictive, and completely selfish. Yes, all of these things have been coming out like a floodgate these past few months.
So that got me thinking about what got me to this point. And while yes, I am responsible for my actions it once again made me think of the church culture I was raised in (not meaning my parents, or the way they raised me, but my actual church experience). Yes it’s true that I heard my entire life that I was saved through grace alone and not by works. The problem was that I was shown just the opposite. I was shown that good Christians don’t say bad words, and they most certainly don’t smoke, or drink. Yes I was told that I was saved through grace, but I was shown that really I have to be a moral person for God to really not be mad at me. I’m not blaming my past for how I think now, but I’m saying that helped lay the foundation for my current dilemma that I’m realizing is extremely deep seeded. I realize this is a tough tension to wrestle with, yes it’s true we are saved by grace alone, but there is evidence of our salvation. But sometimes I think we, I, have looked for the wrong evidence. Sometimes I’ve thought “hey that person can’t POSSIBLY be a christian because they just said a curse word”. I’ve had thoughts in the past that when I see people have a beer doubting their salvation! Holy crap can you say pride? Can you say Pharisee? How does God humble me? By showing me what’s underneath the hood of Tim Whitaker, trust me it’s nothing pretty to look at. In fact it’s frankly embarrassing.
This is something that us who grew up in a solid Church culture need to realize quickly. That the only thing good in us is Jesus. Without Him we have no good in us. If left to our own devices we are completely destructive. This should shake us from any high horse mentality that we currently have. We need to be constantly checking ourselves before we go checking on the morality of other people. I know personally, I’m such a full time job that I don’t have time to think about how other people are acting, I have plenty to think about just with myself.
It is easy sometimes to think that sure we are saved by grace, but God is no longer mad at me because I don’t do big bad moral things like have sex outside of marriage. This is such a lie of the Devil. Really, he is crafty and the author of manipulation and word twisting. The devil can get in our heads and convince us that we are a better moral person therefore we have a right to think that God loves us more and that other people have “major” problems because they do things that are seen in our church culture as very bad.
Here’s the bottom line. I think these past few months have opened my eyes to a few things.
1. Really, I do nothing good apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Without Jesus on the cross, and without Him living inside of me, I am not a morally good person.
2. Jesus’s love really is unconditional and He loves me despite my (many) shortcomings.
3. I’m a freaking work in progress. Not satisfied with where I am currently, but resting in the graces of my King.
4. I am the judge of no one. Because I have NO room to talk.
5. I’m REALLY messed up. Praise be to Jesus who rescues me consistently and shows me how to live. Shows me how to live in constant community with my creator.