Sunday, October 11, 2009

Clandestine Self Righteousness
We must all do sentry duty about the insidious nature of self righteousness that lives in all of us, and that has the ability to put on cloaks of Biblical orthodoxy which cover pride by a continual diversion to the sin of others and a charitible presentation of our own spiritual walk. The following link is an example of what I will be dealing with in this post. The author is a dedicated Christian who I have no doubt is sincere in his committment to Christ. However, like so many of us, he is blind to the self righteous implications of such an article.
It does seem that some cannot help but trumpet their own wonderful spiritual depth and progress. I have come to see that as a continuing revelation of many in the “orthodox” community of faith who cannot resist in publishing their valiant doctrinal conquests, their bold stands for truth, and their personal triumphs in their spiritual journey. Of course their articulate and vociferous self commendations leave little room for others to congratulate them, except for the redundant platitudes of the comment threads. On the surface it may well appear to be innocuous and even laudable as many, many posts are about standing for God’s truth, albeit many spiral into a constricted brand of systematic theology. But who would dare argue with a firm and unyielding resolve as it pertains to Scriptural truth? And yet there appears to be a measure of self righteousness even when proclaiming such Scriptural truth.
Hidden within words that seem to present God’s truth as paramount, are words and attitudes that defy and actually countermand the very truths that the posts seem to extol. And many of these authors would loudly proclaim a message of redemption that they insist is doctrinally unspoiled and communicated through an unambiguous concatenation to the original languages. But the post in my link is representative of many posts, and as you can see, many cannot avoid using their own spiritual development as a platform to demean atheists, pagans, and doctrinal miscreants. It is a continuing theme.
There are so many tragic stories that surround some of these "pagans". Girls whose fathers molested them and they wind up as "pagan" prostitutes. Men who were brought up in Godless homes and taught violence, and so they have become "pagans" just like their fathers. Little African children who have never heard about Jesus, and so they practice their religion as "pagans". Millions of teenagers, void of any real and genuine love, seek to fulfill that basic need through drugs, sex, and self mutilation. People that have been abused within the church become bitter and deal with profound hurt by rejecting Christ, whom they wrongly associate with the church. Orphans who have been given up by their mothers are tortured by rejection and many times display a deep hatred for themselves and everyone esle. These are the "pagans" for whom the Christ died for and desires to show them the love of God described in John 3:16. But they are so easy to discount and use as a stepping stone to further illustrate our doctrinal prowess.
There is a time to address issues of truth and issues of heresy, but our own struggling walks of faith, favorably misrepresented at best, must never be seen as validation of our cause or of the truths of God’s Word. Paul took every opportunity to downplay himself and lift up Christ. And when Paul spoke of the glories of Christ and His redemption, he was not chained to a chronic and self righteous denunciation of others. Why do some feel the need to batter sinners and misguided professing saints relentlessly, even when speaking of things that are not directly connected? And perhaps most disturbing of all is when someone addresses the errors and sins of others, while in the same post they share their own measurable spiritual progress.
The message is clear, “I am thankful that I am going so deep in Christ, while at the same time I am seeing more clearly all the rest who are not. I want to make both of those issues abundantly and redundantly clear to everyone. The comment section is now partially open.”
How deeply spiritual can it be when fresh from some moving spiritual experience you again take up the pagan, atheist, and others tirade? That isn’t spiritual, that is carnal self righteousness. We all can learn from these types of projections. If we are not broken about the sins of others we are simply judges. If we are not uncomfortably humble and warily circumspect about our own spiritual walk, we have become our own blaring trumpet. When we arrive at the point that certain detoured camps are our never ending obsession, even to the point of post sermon discussions with the pastor, then we have become distracted and absorbed with things other than Jesus, to say nothing of the reaffirmation of our own spiritual orthodoxy it seems to provide in us.
Should we be concerned when we see an unmistakable departure from Christ and His gospel in some of the movements today? Yes, we must. But we cannot address them at the expense of being blind to our own spiritual malaise and our own cultural bondage that detracts from the very gospel teachings we allege to be defending. Standing for truth can quickly unravel into a doctrinal hubris until it becomes an unchristian stench in the church. You can have Christ defined accurately on paper and yet be exhibiting a lifestyle that is nothing like Him. And you can feed the poor around the world and miss Christ and His gospel as well.
Adding to the truth defender ambiance is an uncontrollable urge to reveal e-mail persecution and how you combat these villains. There are heretical leaders who need strong rebukes as well as intercession; however the average believer who is deceived needs compassion and loving challenge. And they surely should not be used as relief, against which to more clearly outline your own lofty confrontational skills. In essence, “I am a doctrinal dragon slayer”. (I am surprised no one has a blog by that title)
There is a delicate balance between rebuke and humility that must be sought when being used in correction. And when we are unsure about that balance we must surely err on the side of humility. It may not be intentional, but so much sanctimony is projected in the church. There are still none who do not stand entirely by His grace, and there are still none who have given themselves wholly to Christ. My previous post about the little slave girl named Blandina should shame us all and should temper our attitudes about others, and especially the way in which we view ourselves.
When Paul stated, “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself”, he did not mean just in theology. We all have a long way to go before we genuinely count ourselves as nothing, and before we consider everyone else and their needs superior to ours. Distilled down to its core, we have a long way before we reflect Jesus. But the first step is to fully realize the fact that we have somehow lost an accurate vision of Who He was on this earth and what we must emulate. Until then we will continue this charade and call it “orthodox Christianity”.

No comments: