Tension. That is not something that we love being in. For most of us, tension is something that we have to resolve. Not all tension is unnecessary. It’s good to have tension when it comes to the grace and truth of God. It’s good to experience tension in our hearts when seeing the needs of others and how to fulfill them. It’s great to create tension with a young man that is taking your daughter on a date or dance. However, the most tension between God and others is created when pride and selfishness get in the way.
If I’m honest without being too personal, there have been many things I have stretched or not added to my story because I wanted that person or people to think better of me. It seems to work UNTIL some information leaks. Numbers 32:23 NLT says, “But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Yep, that has happened to me. There have been moments where I have made myself look better than I am, haven’t told the complete truth, and struggle to say these two impactful words “I’m sorry.” How did we ever get to be so prideful and selfish?
That’s the tension. Do we really want to live like Jesus, humble and gentle considering others better than himself, or find loopholes to be a Christian and still find ways to show that I’m better than most people? A little lie never hurt anybody! Right? It may fix the short term solution. But what about the long-term relationship with that person? Will they catch on? Of course, they will. Even if you get “lucky” that they never catch on, there is nothing that we can hide from the one who fearfully and wonderfully made us. So why do we keep trying to prove to everyone that we are something we are not?
I love how the Message gives us a picture about what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Until we are fully honest to God about who we are, we will never experience God fully. Until we are fully honest to others about who we are, we will never experience an authentic relationship with our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, and so on.
~Philippians 2:5-8 MSG
When we make things up, tell little white lies, make ourselves look like something we are not, refuse to forgive and be forgiven and secretly jump for joy when bad things happen to those we don’t like, essentially we are telling God that you didn’t make me as good as you could have. Think about it. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus, had equal status with God the Father and didn’t brag about it. In fact, He lived a life serving His creation. That’s the God we serve. That’s the God we are to impersonate. That’s the God we are to follow.
Can you imagine what it would look like if you and I worked hard to live the way Paul describes Jesus as living in Philippians 2? Can you imagine how your relationship with your spouse and children would change if pride were not a factor in our lives? Big picture. What would White River Christian Church look like if individuals would deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus every day in our schools, jobs, homes, and community? Not just talk about it at small groups, classes, or at lunch after services. JUST IMAGINE!
There would be an outpouring of generosity to people in our church and community. We would spend a lot more time figuring out how to get people to follow Jesus instead of “what’s in it for me.” We would stop making excuses about why we cannot commit or give our time, treasures, and talents. There would be a story beyond stories of broken people finding and following Jesus. Baptisms would become the norm. Then and only then, we would finally understand what the Acts church experienced so long ago. Can you imagine it?
The question is, are you and I willing to give up our pride and selfishness for the humility that Christ exemplified? It’s up to you. To be humble, we have to be selfless, not think we are better than others, admit when we are wrong, ask for forgiveness when we hurt someone and live to be last. As an American human being, that is difficult to do. It’s hard to do. But what would happen if we did?