My internal quest for vindication, my pride, my need for “right” makes it incredibly difficult to follow a Savior who rules with meekness more than with might.
I spent most of my life with a picture of a God who was in a state of constant disgust with me. Disgust. Not mild disappointment… not sorrow for my waywardness… not anger at my disobedience… (though these things would all enter into my paradigm at times) but a constant base of disgust.
My theology told me otherwise, but whenever I tried to talk to or relate to God I had a picture of him as disgusted with me. I imagined His face contorted in a grimace, doing all he could to choke back the vomit that the sight of me must surely induce.
God, in His unfathomable tenderness and Grace, mercy, and compassion, reached down to me, through the unbearably complex layers of self-protection, self-righteousness, insecurity, and self-hatred that I had created, and over the past half-decade has done an intricate work in teaching my heart the head-shakingly unbelievable truth that He LOVES me!! That in fact He IS love!
He has painstakingly led me through agonizing and celebrative self-discovery, taught me about the roots of some of these unhealthy beliefs, and carefully begun extracted them without rupturing my heart.
I think I can honestly say that very much of who I am… I am a different person than I was 5 years ago.
And even after all of this…
I still have this horrifyingly persistent, lying, atrocious little companion that desperately wants me to give audience to her loud and passionate declarations. Pride is constantly about me. Demanding my attention… subtly trying to turn my head from truth, hope, and gratitude, to lies, fatalism, humanism, and self-reliance.
Just today, as someone pointed out to me how far it seems I have come, I realized how easily I allow myself to become prideful. Suddenly how far I have come is no longer about how far God has brought me, but rather about how far I have come, as if I had simply awoken one day and decided to come to terms with issues that I didn’t even know I had, and changed my perspective on God being disgusted with me to God loving me through sheer force of will—- as if I had that power—for if i had, i surely would have exercised it long ago. My mind knew the difference between the view of my heart and the truth, yet no amount of gritting my teeth caused my heart to give way. It was only through the interactions of my tender Father, and gentle Love, Jesus that these truths managed to penetrate my heart.
I look at the difference between me seeing God as disgusted with me, and my new perspective of His unfathomable love, and I allow myself to believe that this difference is because I’m a better person now than I was. I can subconsciously be so audacious as to believe that God is no longer disgusted with me, because there is nothing to be disgusted with anymore.
which… is really a disgusting thought.
I gripped the concept to the total depravity of man pretty tightly, and didn’t really pay much attention to irresistible Grace.
This whole story, so far, serves to illustrate that the most hopeless situation I found myself in… my belief that the God I had chosen to follow not only hated me but was disgusted with me… was irreversibly redeemed through the passionate, persistent love of Christ…
and yet I can DARE to take credit for it…
that in the most undeniably divine interaction of my life… Pride still seeps in.
I want to be right. I want to be self-sufficient. I want to be vindicated.
So how do I follow an upside-down Messiah?
He doesn’t have much time for pride, and doesn’t give arrogance and audience. He seems to have less interest in vindicating me and more in directing me to serving others.
I want Him to smite my enemies and exalt me and all His other followers… oh… except the ones that I think are being prideful and arrogant and presumptuous and hypocritical and contemptuous and slothful, and lying, and….
hmmmmmmmmmmm… not a lot of people left on that list. Not even me… not even by my own standards.
Jesus’ followers have always had this challenging struggle. Just when they thought they had Him figured out, He would find a new way to challenge their pride. And then, when it seemed like His ministry was really taking off, and He was going to establish Himself as the Messiah of Israel, the King of the Jews….
So I have these warring desires. I want Him to smite all the people who piss me off… who offend my pride. It’s really what it comes down to if I’m honest. and the reality is… in the last 24 hours… I’ve pissed myself off!
and this Jesus… the Christ… My beloved Savior…
His answer to the darkness within each of us… the failures that so offend… His answer is to strike himself… to allow himself to be “stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted” . . .
to absorb within Himself all of my ugliness… even the very pride that makes me desire such hateful things…
And to let all of this
It’s really quite the opposite of pride isn’t it. . .
And If I really want to follow Him… I really have to learn to lay down this pride thing. Because it’s NEVER going to be about being “right”.
I’m never going to have all the answers… and to be honest… I don’t really want to… I want to keep searching Jesus for truth… I want to learn to follow Him. I want His creation to inspire awe and wonder.
Jesus calls us to radical humility. To love the people who hurt us… to pray for the people who hate us, or harder yet… the people we hate. To dare to let Him show us how HE sees them…
To have the courage to recognize that she is not so different that me, and that he has problems much like me, and that we all have different stories, and everyone of our stories and every one of us… are PRECIOUS to Him.
Where the Jews expected a Messiah of vindication, to re-establish them as the “superior nation” that they felt they had been called to be… Jesus came to fulfill the calling they had been given… to be a nation that was *blessed to be a blessing*.
How often do we misunderstand our calling!! We’ve not been called to be part of the spiritual elite… to sit in our box seats and muse about how the little people might someday find their way up to the heights we have “achieved”. We’ve been called to get down into the mud on our hands and knees and offer our backs for them to stand on and climb on that they may also see the light… that they may be uplifted.
I want to stop forgetting that following Jesus isn’t just about Joy… ascension, transcendence, power, miracles… but that following Jesus is about this rather important upside-down to human instinct life… of giving up everything for others.
Jesus, humility is not easy. I want to throw down my cross and yell at the onlookers who jeer me and boo me and cheer for my demise… I want to yell at them, “you don’t me! You don’t know who I am… you don’t know whose I am! Go to Hell all of you!” Did you ever want to do that? when you were struggling down that lonely, horrible road… did you want to throw down your cross, condemn all the people who scoffed at you? Tell them that if it wasn’t for you, they’d all be doomed, and that they should thank you for what you were doing?
How much did our betrayal hurt you? How much did it sting knowing that any delight we took in your death was not born in a recognition that we were being saved by you, but in a belief that you were powerless, even worthless, laughable, and deserving, in fact, of death?
I’m so sorry. Teach me to love the way you love!
Thank you SO MUCH for loving me, even while I cause you such suffering and heartbreak, betrayal, and pain. I want to love the way you love, regardless of how “they hurt me”. I want to forgive the way that You forgive.