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I’m probably the best Christian I know

08 Sep

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.

~James

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6 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Bible, Religion

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “I’m probably the best Christian I know

  1. Barney Coakley

    September 21, 2011 at 8:42 am

    As a Newbie, I am permanently searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

     
  2. K.R.Morris

    October 11, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Growing up in the church i was involved in all the same stuff. But I was on the opposite side of this coin. I was the guy who disliked all the Christians who thought they were the best Christian ever. I questioned everything about them, and to be honest was probably even more judgemental. I liked to break all the rules and wasn’t ashamed to say I did. Now looking back at all of that I see myself not really loving God and loving people just like you mentioned. We may have looked different on the outside but still struggled with the same core issue. Awesome post.

     
  3. Katie

    November 7, 2011 at 12:21 am

    The only problem with boiling purpose down to loving God and loving other people is that the rest of Scripture is supposed to help explain how that works and what that looks like. And then the twisted knots happen again. It’s an unending cycle of bringing it back to the basics, looking deeper, finding yourself diverted, going back to the basics, etc. At least, that was my own experience as a Christian.

     
    • James

      November 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Hey Katie,
      Thanks for the comment and I totally agree. As humans our natural tendency is to over complicate things. If we can look at the rest of scripture, remembering that the goal of all of it is love I think it helps us maintain balance. In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul tells his protege Timothy that the goal of their instruction of the church at Ephesus is love from a pure heart, a clear conscience and a sincere faith. If we can use verse like these that remind us of the overarching theme of scripture, hopefully we will be able to better live out the other commands in scripture with less legalistic, complicated, rigidity. Hopefully the judgement, and legalism that tend to crop up when people get caught in the cycle that you’ve just described will get covered by a love that draws the back to the sole purpose of the Gospel. Thanks again for the post. Check back next week. We will have new posts up each Monday morning.

       
  4. Chelsea

    December 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Umm, you just described my entire childhood. Thanks for speaking the truth and letting the rest of us know that we’re not the only ones leaving Christian superstardom.

    This is my journey:
    http://thediaryofadaughter.blogspot.com/2011/10/im-christian-i-was-before.html#comment-form

     
    • GDB Team

      December 18, 2011 at 2:09 am

      Thanks for commenting Chelsea,

      I think that more people have this type of story than we like to think. It’s interesting to me to hear where these stories end up. Some who grew up in strict conservativism stay the course, others become more progressive but remain in the church with a mind to reform it, and still others throw the baby out with the bath water and abandon religion al together.

       

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