I sat down the other day to think about what I would post and in a moment of conviction it came to me. I was thinking about just how much I admired Ben and how he lives out his faith. Ben is the guy who started this blog and while that remains true; the fact that he started this blog has absolutely nothing to do why I’m posting about him. The reason is a characteristic transparency in his day-to-day struggles as he strives toward righteousness in Christ.
In some just way, I find myself envying Ben for his ability to be himself as he humbly allows God to transform him into the person that God would have him to be. As I’ve watched Ben grow over the past year in His Christian walk, one of the things that has intrigued me about him is his willingness to profess his weaknesses, admit his downfalls, and crawl graciously back to the mercy of God.
For me, the ability to do that just doesn’t come so easy. I have an idea that this unshakable tendency to resist transparency deeply rooted in pride. I think this pride that keeps me from being transparent about my faults is something that a lot of “more tenured” Christian believers struggle with. I mean there’s a difference in rehearsing the tried and true admission “I’m not perfect, I fall short just like every one else” and living out an authentic humbled application of transparent faith. You look at the bold and passionate faith of new believers as they stumble their way into the Christian faith like a new born deer trying to find it’s footing for the first time in a new world. Their faults are evident, their folly so visible, but one thing that’s absolutely undeniable is their vigor and passion for their new found life in Christ. It’s that passion, that transparency that I sometimes envy. Contrast that with a seasoned believer, like myself and you often get a picture not like a graceless stumbling fawn, but an astute and albeit religious patriarch of Christendom postured in his own ability to maintain an image of perfection. What’s the difference? The difference is what iamcalledtobe.
The apostle Paul in the third chapter of Philippians understands exactly what I’m talking about as he urges;
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:5-11
I am called to be the kind of Christian who daily abides in the grace of God, a grace the frees me from the need to look righteous before others, a grace offered by the same sacrifice by which I gained salvation, a grace given through Christ Jesus. I’m to cling so closely to God’s righteousness, that when on the occasion that I fall short, I’m able to show my weakness with such humility, that the righteousness of God is put on showcase and not the righteousness of my own striving. It’s so difficult sometimes when people look to you to be the model Christian, and you’ve cornered yourself in a pride-induced position of inability to show your humanity, your wounds, your faults, and inability. But the truth of the matter is people don’t need me to be perfect, that’s what they have Jesus for. I am called to be so transparent, that people no longer see or look to Sheldon, but to Christ Jesus as their ultimate model of righteousness, relying upon the power of God’s Holy Spirit to transform and to mold into righteousness.
So what do I do? Embrace His grace and die to myself daily. You see, grace is God’s extension of freedom to us, when nothing we have done or can ever do deserves such perfect freedom. And it’s a freedom that not only emancipates us from the stain of sin, but the entrapment of our own accolades. Paul recounts his resume; circumcision, Hebrew, Pharisee, only to count it all loss. That’s freedom! Freedom from self certification, to Christlike humility and dependence upon Christ; the righteous one!
So I would encourage you, if you find yourself like me struggling to free yourself from the weight of maintaining some sort of Christian image. Just stop. Count it all loss. Return to the grace that is in Christ, and know that you don’t have to get it all right. Jesus Christ has done all that is to be done, His spirit indwells you, and you have only to abide in His grace and yield to His spirit. Admitting your faults and falling steadfastly into God’s merciful arms. That’s salvation. That’s what I am called to be!