It can be difficult to know who is!
It’s always been a challenge for me to figure out and I suspect others probably wonder the same about me! Of course at times I wonder how seriously some things actually should be taken. Perhaps it’s because of my analytic nature that I focus so much on details and have a tendency to be more literal in how I understand things. I’m someone who’s quite serious,too much so in fact,who’s trying to interface with a read the fine print “Just Kidding” world.
This fixation of mine seems to play out most noticeably in my relationships, both personal and professional. I don’t think it’s really so unusual or remarkable in any way,on the contrary! I see this mindset as being rather common hence the familiarity of the phrase in our culture. However,when combined with any sort of OCD or perfectionist tendencies it typically leads to disappointment and frustration on the part of all who’re trying to understand the appropriate roles of the respective parties in any given situation.
Looking back on my spiritual journey which for me began at age nine or ten it seems to of,almost without fail, follow a distinct pattern. I find myself being drawn into “all things spiritual” until I reach a point where I can’t find answers to my questions or perceive “it” or myself, as somehow being in contradiction or one of us not living up to the associated claims. All of this is based on or evidenced by how I see “God” manifested in the world, in myself,and in other Christian people I know. At times the answers I do find seem to conflict with what’s taught or simply lead to more questions.
Is Christianity the perfect ideology for people with low self esteem?
The idea of redemption was never hard to sell to me…As a youth I was so full of self loathing that the idea of being someone other than myself or a better version of who I was seemed like an answered prayer! (I’m still rather frustrated on this score) There are times that I think Christianity would be the greatest thing in the world, that it’d be worth screaming from the rooftops about if it simply did what it claims to do! I suppose that yet again I’m just “doing it wrong” but it’s awfully hard for me to conceive of a God who loves us so much and yet Who would make it so complicated or confusing to be redeemed or to get a taste of that victorious life we’re teased with!
In first Corinthians fifteen Paul talks about our faith being in vain. I don’t think I’m taking too great of an interpretive leap here to juxtapose the relevance of his statement to our spiritual lives. To me He seems to be saying that if Christ didn’t walk out of the grave then what we believe is in vain. If we’ve been crucified with Christ,born again and are in truth new creations in Christ which will someday rise just as He did,why are so many of us still dead in our sins?
“Because someday hasn’t come yet dummy and as long as you dwell in this tent of flesh,you’ll fight this battle regardless of how you feel about it”…The Holy Spirit
WOW! He’s in a mood today…
Anyways, my point is that if our new lives in Christ aren’t a miracle of some kind isn’t what we’re believing also in vain? I understand the eternal aspects of this statement but I also have to believe there are significant implications for our here and now lives as well! It is a bit confusing when you read what Paul says in Philippians about his own righteousness.
KJV And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Or verse 12 of Chapter three in which Paul goes on to say…
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
And of course this confusing admission of his own inadequacy.
KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Obviously Paul saw himself as a work in progress! That he was running a race,not that he had finished one…
There are however ways to know we’re on the right road!
KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Certainly I”m not SO arrogant to in any way expect more from myself than Paul did!
Or am I?
Or pigheaded enough to be unforgiving towards myself when God the Father has already seen fit to forgive my many sins…
WHEW! Glad that’s been cleared up…
So, then what am I really so unhappy about or what are my real expectations?
Oh not much…
I once heard an analogy when I was in addiction recovery that related to what’s known as “recovery time” and “clean time”. It served to help distinguish the differences between them. The phrase “clean time” relates to how long someone has gone without using whereas the term “recovery” is an indication of the healing that’s occurred in someones life, of how much of the causative component involved in a persons addictive behaviors have been dealt with. Clean time is also known as “white knuckling it” the idea being that a persons sobriety is a function of their own “self will” and that inevitably it will fail.
Recovery time is so much better because once we understand the reasons we used to begin with we’re much,much less susceptible to their influence. Nothing is quite so liberating to an addict as understanding why it’s not just “okay” to be who they are and sober but how actually fantastic it is! They’ll never go back to using because they understand how much better off they are where they’re at! It’s no longer a struggle to stay sober,because from this new perspective you know that YOU’VE WON! And that you can live in victory over your addiction because you have something that’s SO much better!
That’s what I want from my spiritual life!
I’m tired of white knuckling it!
And I can’t stand the frustration of the failure that comes with it.
Which is what most religion comes down to in my opinion
and I definitely don’t believe in that.
What I do believe in is love.
And it’s transformative power!
So what I want is a personal encounter with it, or Him…
1 John 4:8
KJV He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
After all that I’ve been through…
all that I’ve seen and done.
I have to be honest enough to say I don’t have it!
which gives me the perfect opportunity to end this post using my title and the likely reaction to it by some!
5 replies on “Are You Serious?”
Twenty-six years ago, I sat in a restaurant, enjoying fellowship with three other Christian men. The other guys had been Christians for years and I had been one for just a few months. One of the men made an offhand statement: “God is a good God..”
I sat there and thought, “My earthly dad is a great father who loves me and might even die for me if he had, too. But my heavenly Father loves me even much more than that and did die for me. So, yes, God is a good God.”
From that moment on, I believed with all my heart that God was a good God who loved me with all His heart.
This seemingly insignificant revelation has kept me moving forward through every trial and setback over the last twenty-six years. You see, I realize that God is absolutely head over heels in love with me and would bankrupt heaven if I needed Him to do it. My self-esteem lies in this revelation of God, knowing I’m a royal son of a great King who I call Daddy.
And I guarantee that anyone can have this revelation just by asking, “God are You a good God? If so, reveal this fact to me?”
I guess that’s my whole point Larry! I believe that what you described should of happened to me by now and I’m wondering why it hasn’t! I am happy for you though. I don’t think knowing or receiving God’s love comes down to a formula or a specific prayer on our part, if it did I think you’d have a lot more real Christian people who claim to of done that actually living in that love than I’ve noticed.
Everyone talks about intimacy with God, but if you have never received a revelation of God’s smashing love for you, it’s a lot tougher to relate. I also don’t believe in formulas, but I do know God answers prayers. So, ask and keep on asking, until like the woman with the judge, you have so bugged God and shaken His robe, that He blows your socks off.
Jeff, great post. I believe the apostle was saying that the victory comes from living in Romans 8. Very often though we don’t believe that so we go running back to live under law. There are all sorts of subtle reasons, pressures, and influences that cause us to do that, but the Holy Spirit takes it for granted that we’re finished with the law. If you ask Him to show you the truth of R8 He’ll do it. Larry’s right … keep on asking – but make sure you’ve got a spare pair of socks on hand too!!
A big thanks to you Roger, and to Larry, for being my “big brothers” in Christ! I am blessed to of known you both for the last few years. I believe that there’s nothing as powerful as a Christian who truly knows who they are in Christ! My prayer is that God will use everything I’ve been through to help me become the person he designed me to be so yeah I just gotta have faith and hang on! Thanks for your wise council and for caring!