I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way people view themselves. I’m particularly talking about people who are church-folk. There’s been a growing populous in the churches who practice what I call “Feel-Bad Christianity.” You know the types. The people who think everything they do is a sin…who feel the need to tell their life-story every time they open their mouths. How they used to get into all sorts of trouble. How life was a mess and they’re still dealing with the repercussions… Essentially the people who’ve never really accepted God’s forgiveness and still mourn their past misdeeds.
This, of course, does not just apply to the people who have “BIG” sins. (First off, since EVERY sin played a part in the death of Christ, I have difficulty assigning eternal weight to them…but that’s just a side issue.) It seems like the people who feel the WORST about their lives are the people who do very little sinning. I daily encounter people who think they’re not really saved because they still slip up and say a “curse” word now and again. (You can read my thoughts on that elsewhere on the blog, so I won’t get into it.) Or people think they risk losing their salvation every time they walk into a place that serves alcohol.
First off, I’m going to go ahead an bring up the fact that Jesus not only was noted to have had wine to drink at meals, He also freaking MADE wine…so I’m thinking he’s not too mad at people who like to have a drink now and again. Maybe if you’re a hard-and-fast ADDICT, there’s an issue…but alcohol in and of itself is not sinful. Neither is smoking. Neither is sex (in and of itself, anyway). Neither is most of the stuff people do that they would never mention to their pastor–which he also probably does but would never mention to his congregation.
As is common knowledge to those who regularly read my blog (or just noticed my profile over to the right), I’m an ordained minister. I’ve also made no secret of the following things…
I like beer.
I “curse” a little.
I think evolution is a plausible theory.
I have a short temper.
I’m at least a little pretentious, if not downright pompous.
I watch R-rated movies, almost exclusively.
I’m often careless with money.
I’m a slacker.
Etc, etc, etc…fill in your own (though preferably not in the “comments” section. 🙂
None of that is particularly sinful on its own (except possibly for the short temper). I used to hide most of it. I used to think people would think I was a “bad Christian” if they found out my band plays in bars–so I used the word “restaurant” as a pseudonym. I thought I would be universally shunned if people knew I owned every Kevin Smith movie. I used to beat myself up over stuff like that and feel miserable all the time–or nervous that someone might “find me out.”
However, in the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to be more honest about who I am and what I do. I’ve evaluated my life and whereas I find some sinful behaviour, I don’t find sin in the things I enjoy (yes, there IS a difference). The Bible says (in Ecclesiastes) that we should eat, drink, and be glad, for this is a gift of God. I don’t know why that’s such a problem for people. I’m not sure why I was one of them. But I’ll tell you this…my life got a LOT better and I’m a LOT happier since I started admitting that I enjoy things that normally wouldn’t be mentioned within 50 feet of a pulpit. If people judge me for it, I don’t really care. That’s their issue and if they have nothing better to do than pick apart someone else’s life, that speaks VOLUMES about them. I don’t think the things I was ashamed of in the past actually are sinful…but I think the hypocrisy I was showing in covering it up WAS.
Folks, it’s psychologically unhealthy to deny who you are. Maybe you’re NOT a great person. Maybe your life IS full of sin. Maybe you DO need to make some changes…fine. Don’t be ashamed of it. If you are living sinfully and recognise the need for change, then own that. If people ask you about it, you can look them in the eye and say, “This is who I am, but by the grace of God, I hope I won’t be someday.” Or, if you’re in the boat (perhaps Ark) of people who aren’t really doing anything wrong, you can own up to that, too. If anyone says anything about it, YOU can look them in the eye and say, “I’m alright with God, I’m committing no sin, and I’m going to Heaven.” Just don’t be too surprised when they say they’re going to pray for you.
In short (too late)… God made it possible for us to get to Heaven. Along the way, He wants us to enjoy our lives. If you have nothing better to do than sit around moping about your past or even your present, you’re squandering God’s gift to you. Enjoy yourself this side of Heaven. Only by embracing the joy God gives you on Earth can you taste Heaven before you get there. Just…y’know…try not to get joy from killing people. 🙂
…sorry about all the babbling. Just felt like saying some of that stuff for a while. Unfortunately, I’m not saying it quite as well as I want to…but whatever. It’s just a blog.
- Pink Floyd – “The Wall”