In light of some of the current conversations I am having, I have updated some thoughts I had from a few years ago. I hope you will forgive the coarse title of this post. It reflects the way I often feel when I compare myself to others.
I used to be a good Christian. Well, I was almost a good Christian. I only missed being one by a few devotions. Had I led two more people to Christ, I am pretty sure I would have won some sort of spiritual merit badge.
I also used to be a confident and positive young man filled with lots of interesting trivia about the Bible. Now, I am middle-aged, and have spent most of my adult life being paid as a “professional Christian,” and I mostly wonder why did I waste so much of my life on what I now view as insignificant.
I am beginning to realize that it is as difficult now to move from being noticed to living in relative obscurity, as it was to sit alone at lunch in junior high. Mostly, only good Christians get noticed. As a matter of fact, that may be the primary task of the good Christian–to be noticed. Good Christians crave that their goodness, godliness, and “hard work for the Kingdom” be acknowledged. So as I sit back and reflect on how far I have fallen in my Christian goodness, I have identified a couple of the primary qualities that separate Good Professional Christians from the rest of us. They include: goals, power and certainty.
Goals. Good Professional Christians have lots of goals: get church attendance to double, do more personal devotions and more push-ups, send their kids to better schools, and elect more moral government officials. Their friendly local Christian bookstore assists them in their goal setting and goal-meeting. Apparently, we have become a fix-it faith, a get-‘err-done kind of Christianity. Think back to last New Year’s and those resolutions you made. I bet you wanted to be a better Christian somehow.
Crappy Christians are slow and sometimes appear lazy, but what they are trying very hard to do is to stop measuring everything. Loving people seems to look different to me now than winning people did back when I was trying to be a Good Professional Christian. I cannot for the life of me find that passage where Jesus told his disciples their numbers were a bit low…Can anyone help me?
Here are my new lofty goals: to not tinkle when I sneeze, to meet Phil Mickelson and to love better.
That’s about it.
Power. Good Christians seem to have a lot of power. In fact, they have an enormous amount of power, especially over their nagging character defects. It seems that Good Christians do not struggle much with issues of the flesh or personal history. Somehow, they always find victory, which means that as far as anyone can see, they have no visible defects. Only Good Christians are considered as leaders, and the better the Christian, the more “leadership” they are given. With power comes a sense of independence that allows the Good Christian to not really need others too much.
Crappy Christians are usually total losers. They struggle with morality, substance abuse, and the belief that everyone should do what they say will do. They compound their problems by telling folks about their problems. And then, just to make things worse, they actually ask for help.
Certainty. Good Christians are certain they are right. How often do you hear from a good Christian, “What do you think? Maybe I am wrong.” To them, the Bible is a book of facts to be mastered that all fit into a nice, neat little package. Certainty is what gives Good Christians the confidence to, without hesitation, tell others how to live. They often seem to say “Certainty is faith,” but if they are so sure do they really need faith?
Crappy Christians doubt, ask questions, and aren’t too sure about things anymore. We tend to wonder and ask questions. We notice some people believe differently than we do, and we don’t always feel obligated to convince them our view is the right one.
Greetings, Crappy Christians! At least we are not alone.