Sunday, July 31, 2011

Original Sin

Time and time again as I "progress" in my faith I have to re-come to terms with the fact that I am a woefully prideful individual...and in the most pathetic kinds of ways. I tend to look down on people who struggle with stuff that is foreign to me, or who struggle with stuff that I can't understand. And because their struggle completely escapes me I am the first one to condemn them and tell them to shape up.

It's as if my arrogance is only outmatched by my complete lack of Christ like empathy. In my pride I assume that I am wise. In my pride I assume that if a person would only do X, Y, Z, then they would finally be able to live like A, B, C. And so often the truth is that God makes us all different. Our struggles are as unique as our strengths, our temptations as vast as our moral codes. 

This blinding pride is made worse by the fact that it distracts me from helping the person I am judging. Oh don't get me wrong, I "help" them, by pointing out all their faults and showing them the error of their ways, and to an extent I suppose there is a time and a place for that. But to point out fault without love is no better than to expose a wound and not bandage it up. Our words have the power to heal...and to destroy. And if we know one thing for certain it is that pride brings forth words of death rather than words of life.

Through pride I feel entitlement. Through pride I feel deserving. Through pride I thumb my nose at the ignorant masses that deserve my compassion (or perhaps that should be the other way around). Through pride I expect that which I have not earned in a life bought, paid, and bled for by someone else...

It's funny how even the greatest pagan philosophers end up reaching the same Biblical truths at some point or another. Marcus Aurelius knew just as King Solomon had known centuries before him, that fortune falls the same on the just and the unjust, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. In fact Jesus himself promises a life of pain, agony, and misfortune. As Christians so many of us believe that security in Christ means security from the suffering of this world...and in our great arrogance we are always stunned when calamity strikes. "How could this happen to me?", "Why, God, did you allow this to happen?", "Jesus, I can't believe you would let me suffer in this way..." Consider these statements. What's really going on here? Would we be stunned that God would allow this to happen to your neighbor? Or to the families of the victims of 9/11? Or to some nameless casualty you hear about every single day in the news?

In truth, many of us expect physical security in a world of turbulent chaos out of a sense of misplaced Christian pride. We grow comfortable in our homes, so we expect to keep them forever. We feel loved in our families so we expect them to always be there. Eventually you begin to feel that you in fact deserve these unique blessings as a point of fact, ignoring the scary reality that nothing is ever certain, that all we have been given is a gift and not a foregone conclusion, and that the things we should be grateful for on a DAILY basis are daily reminders that Christ is blessing you and not the other way around. "How could this happen to me" betrays your true feelings about what you think you deserve. 

What we deserve is death. 

My prayer is that God could truly and miraculously cure me of this detrimental sin. From it I judge those that I should love, expect a life of ease when all I have been promised is uncertainty, and look to myself when what I should be focusing on is Christ.

Those steeped in pride fall the hardest during calamity. And calamity will come. So steep yourself in humility so that when the waves come crashing in you will be anchored in the One who promised a bumpy ride but a safe landing.