I am basically a super-Christian. Growing up I was in Cubbies, Sparkies, Pals, Pioneers, and even continued on into Junior Varsity (For those of you who don’t know these were all part of a program called AWANA which is basically Christian boy scouts. You get patches for Bible verse memory and I had a frickin butload of them). I had so many awards for Bible Memory that they asked me to represent our church in the Bible Bowl. I played in the worship band when I was in junior high, not because I was great on guitar but because I loved Jesus that much. I started leading worship in youth group when I was a freshman in high school. I never forgot my Bible and I took pride in reading it every day. It was highlighted, underlined, marked up, and written in on almost ever page. (I stayed away from Song of Solomon, that’s only for married people…see Ashers post “Sex is Not a four letter word”.) I was almost always the first person to find the passage in sword drills (my personal favorite bible game), and I was always the first person to correct bad theology in my classmates. In high school I was a leader in my youth group as well as with fellowship of Christian athletes at school and I made fun of people who I knew were Christians that didn’t take their faith as seriously as I did. My freshman year I participated in the annual See you at the Pole rally (which is actually coming up soon 9/28/11), there were 2 of us. The next year there were over 50, and in my own mind I took credit for it because they were all coming to the youth group where I led worship. I went to a Christian camp every summer of my life and every summer I looked down on the kids that came to “have fun”… I came to get to know Jesus better (I hope you can feel the snoby-ness by now, I’m laying it on pretty thick). Some summers I even went to two different Christian camps. I had a bobble head Jesus on my guitar amp and I rocked Christian T-shirts like I was getting sponsored by Family Christian Book store. (To tell the truth I was terrified of the idea that anyone would ever question whether or not I was a Christian) I was a sexually abstinent, cocky prude. To put it bluntly DC Talk’s “Jesus Freak” was actually written about me… 😉
When college started I chose a Christian College and was a Christian Ministries major. I quickly switched to Biblical Studies because the classes were harder and it was for students that took God’s word seriously. I was predestined to be a Bible Major. I bullied people with theology and enjoyed being theologically and intellectually superior to those around me. I became a pastor at the age of 19. NINETEEN!!! My friends were struggling to get internships or jobs at Sonic while trying to break their most recent Call of Duty kill counts and I was working part-time, which quickly turned to almost full-time as a bona-fide Pastor (do people still say bona-fide?). I joked with friends that I was a “professional Christian” and that me and God were “like this” (*fingers crossed to visually display how tight we were). I was only partly kidding and the thought of being a professional Christian only fed my ego. I was arrogantly theological, narcissisticly self-righteous, and completely infatuated with my own good deeds. I was the greatest Christian that I knew.
Thankfully my pride has been slowly waning since my sophomore year of college. A year or two of ministry at the age of nineteen and twenty, being challenged by brilliant professors, getting married, becoming a father, and being forced into the very cruel and very real world can have that effect on a person.
For all of you who struggle with pride like I do…
Mar 9:33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way? 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Hit me like a ton of bricks.
Christian culture seems to have a tendency toward legalism, rules, comparing my morality to that of others etc… The mark of true spirituality is measured by the fruit produced by each persons life. I don’t mean to throw that concept out the window because there is some truth to it. But when Christ was asked about what was most important, it all boiled down to loving God and loving people. (Matt 22:36-40) He didn’t talk about the importance of theology, or scripture memorization, or leadership in church, or anything else. He talked about love. We’ve missed that, and continue to miss that in church culture today.