Sin and Guilt

Yesterday I was at lunch with a group of people from church. Flowergirl was one of them. I generally take her and one of her roommates to church on Sundays, and then buy them lunch afterwards. This isn’t an attempt at a group date (I’ve given up on her… almost completely), just something I like to do because they are both poor college students in need of good meals. During the meal flowergirl was rather frustrated with me, mostly because I kept laughing at her. She hadn’t had much sleep the night before and was very tired, and so I had to keep waking her up in church. I commented that her head resembled a metronome in the way it kept bobbing up and down as she tried to stay awake. She didn’t see the humor in this, mostly because she was ashamed that she was struggling to stay awake in church.

Flowergirl, like many of us, was under the impression that the fact one struggles with something is, in and of itself, something to be ashamed of. This is not true. All Christians struggle with sin, and as one of my professors used to say: all means all and that’s all all means. While I don’t entirely agree with this sentiment (in some cases ‘all’ clearly means ‘most’, ‘many’, or ‘those of which I have knowledge’), in this case it is entirely true. Outside of Jesus Christ who, being the Christ incarnate, can’t really be called a ‘Christian’ (i.e. little Christ or follower of Christ) there has never been an individual who did not fail in his/her struggle with sin. However, even Christ himself struggled with sin. We know that he was ‘tempted in every way as we are’ from Hebrews 4, and from both Matthew and Luke we know that he was tempted by Satan himself. Christ did not sin, nor did he have a sinful nature, and some will argue that he could not have fallen to temptation (this position is called ‘hard impeccability’, though personally I prefer ‘soft impeccability’ which argues that Christ was capable of sinning, but didn’t), but I do not know of anyone who will argue that Christ did not struggle with temptation. This fact is made absolutely clear in the scriptures. So, given that Paul clearly fell to sin… repeatedly (Romans 7), that Peter fell to sin the the worst possible way (the denial of Christ), and that Christ himself was struggled with varied temptations, why do we believe that to struggle is, in and of itself, a shameful thing?

The answer, of course, is the American need to be ‘better’. If you sin then I am better than you because I do not sin. If you struggle with sin, then I am better than you because I do not struggle with sin. If you are tempted to sin then I am better than you because I am not tempted to sin. None of these things are true, obviously, but they are the lives that we often attempt to portray, and also one of the most prominent reasons for the frequent and warranted accusations of hypocrisy within the American church. None of us is perfect. We all struggle with a variety of sins. Those sins may be different for different people, but none is better or worse.

This is another facet of the American church that needs to be addressed. We often rate actions by their ‘sinfulness’. Homosexuality is the most sinful thing a normal person could do. Pornography is a close second. However, gluttony, gossip, worry, and pride are all innocuous, inconsequential sins by common American standards. This is, obviously, a giant load of crap. James 2 makes it clear that sin is sin. All sin equally removes us from a right relationship with God and no sin is inconsequential. There is a passage in John 5 that discusses the difference between ‘sins not leading to death’ and ‘sins leading to death’, which was (I think) the primary impetus behind Augustine’s division between mortal and venial sins, but this is a theological question that I will address another time.

For our purposes here, sin is all equally damning in the eyes of God. All sins should invoke guilt in us until we turn to God in repentance. However, the simply fact of struggle with a sin should not. In fact, it seems to me that a man or woman who truly and honestly struggles with sin is respectable. It is easy to give up the struggle and simply fall to sin, and if we struggle we will eventually fall. However, to continue in the struggle, to run the race, to fight the good fight, is something that scripture repeatedly calls us to (1 Peter and 1 John are both good examples, as are 1 and 2 Timothy). We are called to struggle with our sins, and in struggling we pursue perfection, which is the process of sanctification. This isn’t something that we can, or even should escape.

So, do not let the struggle be a thing of shame. When you struggle and are victorious, count it as glory to God who aided you in your struggle. When you struggle and fall, be aware of your human frailty and repent. However, the struggle in and of itself is a part of being human. Consider it as such.

Little Things Lead to Big Things

This is a concept that is very true and works in multiple directions. For instance, I have a young friend that I’ve mentioned several times… I’m not sure I’ve ever given her a name… let’s call her Shelly… I’ve known Shelly since she was very young, and I’ve never really done anything all that special for her. I’ve given her a few birthday presents here and there, I’ve spent time with her, and I’ve comforted her a few times when things at school were upsetting, but I haven’t done anything really major. I’ve never saved her life. I never bought her a pony. I never did much of anything besides be myself. The thing is, over years of being myself, this little girl has decided that I’m a really great friend, and a close bond has formed. The same is true with her younger brother… Timmy…, for whom I’ve also never done much of anything special. Little things, over a long period of time, lead to big results.

This is true in the opposite direction as well. When I was young I was given constant negative reinforcement. I can’t say that my parents ‘never’ did anything majorly wrong (I almost made my mom move out at one point, and that is the one time that I can say that my dad just plain beat me), but they didn’t do many hugely wrong things. They weren’t drug addicts, they didn’t sell me to strange men in alleys, they didn’t smack me around on a daily basis. Nonetheless, little things, repeated over a long period of time, lead to a massively screwed up kid. When I turned twelve I was in my eighties, and I didn’t reach my teens until I hit 20. Thus my twenties were filled with all the emotional crap that teens have to deal with. It was all very annoying.

So, little things+time=big results. When a gorgeous woman whom I’ve never met and who has many pictures and few connections ‘friends’ me on Facebook I tend to take one look at the profile, decide it’s not a real person, and deny the friend request. … …Of course sometimes I take the time to look through the pictures of said gorgeous woman… I generally regret that afterwards. Today has been one of those days. Ever since the friend request I got this morning, I’ve been wanting to Google ‘the girl next door’. I don’t particularly want to do this, but the idea keeps popping back into my head. I push it out, and a few minutes later it pops right back in. Then I push it out again… and repeat. This frustration has persisted through grading, martial arts classes, and a friend’s party. I suppose I could have named this post ‘and the cat came back…’ If you know what I’m talking about then you know… if not… it’s a thing, don’t worry about it.

At this point I can’t say what will happen, and I hate that feeling. I can say that I’m going to take my frustration to God and ask for help. I can say that I’m going to do my best to keep my mind and heart focused thoroughly on him. I can also say that little things lead to big things. Little blessings lead to big blessings, and little problems lead to big problems. …And there it goes again :(. Anyway, we all have desires. It’s a normal part of life. We want things. Sometimes we actually, legitimately need things. We long for things. However, ultimately, it isn’t the desires that pop into our head that matter. It is what we do with those desires. Which desires will I choose to dwell on? Which desires will I choose to pursue? Which desires will I choose to focus my heart on? I know which desires I want to focus on, but all to often want and will are two different things.

So, for all of you who are struggling with some desire that frustrates the crap out of you: it happens to all of us. You are not alone. So get your head back in the game, beat the shit out of whatever is pulling you away from God, and focus on pursuing him with a complete heart and mind. I’m going to go do the same.

P.S. What the heck! I was winning! I go away for two days and I’m back to barely breaking even! Seriously people…

My Day Started With a Funeral

One of my college professors died this weekend, and honestly I don’t think it actually sunk in until I was sitting at his funeral. This is a man who I never really knew particularly well, but was still extremely influential in my life. Amazing how that works isn’t it? I hadn’t seen him in probably six or seven years, but I still practice things that he taught me on a daily basis. So, I was sitting there at the back of the church in blue jeans and a dress shirt because I wasn’t particularly close to the family, and it hadn’t occurred to me that people would be wearing suits and ties until I’d walked into the building and seen them wearing suits and ties. Honestly, I doubt the dead man would have remember my name even if I’d seen him a few days before he died. So, I sat there in my completely inappropriate clothing wondering who might be sitting at the back of my funeral wearing inappropriate clothing? Who have I influenced without ever realizing it, and who’s life have I changed, even though I don’t remember who they are?

We all influence people on a daily basis. In 1 Peter 2:11-12 the apostle exhorts his audience to live righteously so that those who would malign them will see the truth of their virtue in their daily lives. Paul does the same thing in Titus. It might be one of my students, or someone at church, or a person whom I met at a local coffee shop. It might be someone to whom I’ve taught martial arts, or a neighbor, or someone I ran into at the mall. Regardless, there are people to whom my life matters that I will never know about, and I have to wonder how I’ve influenced them. Have I spurred them towards righteousness? Driven them away from the faith? Made them give up on a dream? Or pulled them back into reality? I wonder what kind of role model I’ve been, because I can see how this man influenced me.

Of course, if I spend all of my time trying to be a strong role model to whom others should look in awe, then I invite pride, hypocrisy, and deceit into my life. The man who died wasn’t a perfect man. He wasn’t even close to it, and he didn’t hide his flaws, but he was also humble, forthright, and consistently inspired me towards Christ. He was a navy man, and I remember something he told me about serving in Korea. He told me that it was always easy to tell who the Christians were on the ship. When the shop docked at post most of the crew went into town to get drunk and visit prostitutes. The Christians were the ones who came back and felt horrible about it. He pointed out to me that the mark of a Christian is not that he is morally perfect, but that he is convicted of his sin, and that he seeks repentance.

I have often heard the argument that repentance is a turning away from sin. That a part of repentance is to not do the same thing again, and this is true to a degree. Christ did tell the adulterous to go and sin no more (assuming that this story is a part of the original text), and he does hold us to a higher calling. However, he also offers us grace. There is a difference between repeated sin and willful sin. I may stumble in the same fashion many times, but this doesn’t mean that I have chosen to live in that sin. However, this is a difference of the heart that only God can judge. I can’t look at someone else’s struggle with a particular sin and judge whether he truly repents and stumbles again, or whether he’s simply stopped caring about that particular sin. I can point out to him that it is something he needs to avoid. I do everything in my power to help him to avoid it, and I may gain some insight into his motives. However, I can’t truly know his heart.

So, I think, using this professor as a model once again, that the best way to be a role model is to pursue Christ with everything that I have. To put him first and do everything in my power to live my life for him. I try to do this, and I hope that I succeed. I hope that I am a good influence on the people around me, and that I stand out as a Christian truly pursuing the father, and as a man of virtue. Maybe when I die I’ll find out if I did.

P.S. I’ve had more posts than followers for a while now :). It makes me feel like I’m winning.

Superheroes

I love superheroes. I love the stories, the characters, the concepts… honestly, I pretty much love everything about superheroes… except the way some authors draw women. Yes, I’m a nerd. I’m pretty sure that’s been well-established. So, along with this love of superheroes came a love of the idea of righting wrongs… I had to learn the hard way that this isn’t the way it works. The idea of righting wrongs is really nice, it removes guilt, regret, and responsibility. The problem is that we can’t change the past. Once a wrong has been committed it can’t be uncommitted. I can work to mitigate the damage done by that wrong. I can work to make a right come out of the wrong that I have committed, but the wrong that has been done can’t be undone.

It’s been a rough 40 some hours, and I’ve done some things that I wish I hadn’t done. Things that I can’t go back and undo. However, as Paul tells us in Romans, where sin increases, grace abounds. I could sit here and berate myself for the things I’ve done in the past two days, I could run them over in my head, I could beat myself for them, burn myself for them, take out on my flesh the anger that I feel over my actions. However, all of these things are attempts to drive myself to perfection, and that’s not what Christianity is about.

It’s very easy to convince ourselves that our lives are about our sins. That we must strive to free ourselves from sin, or that we are defined by our sins, or that we are trapped by our sins. The thing is, grace is the antidote to sin. This is not to say that my sin is unimportant, or that I can or should sin with impunity. Paul also tells us that the fact that grace abounds where sin increases does not mean that we can or should continue sinning. Sin is wrong, and is something that I should avoid. However, it is also something that I live with everyday. I live, I try, and I fail. When I fail, grace.

I am, to be honest, always amazed at the grace that God shows. At his continual willingness to forgive my wrongs. I fail in so many ways and he is always ready to forgive me. I used to say that I couldn’t understand this and that he shouldn’t have saved me. I gave up on that a while back… mostly because it’s ridiculous. God does what he wants, and what I think is really unimportant. That being said, I have no idea why he chose me, why he pursued me, or why he saved me.  However, he did, and I can imagine my life if he hadn’t. It isn’t pretty or pleasant. Heck… my past 40 hours hasn’t been pretty or pleasant and this is me after being a Christian for 13 years.

Honestly, I wish I could show the grace and mercy that God does. I want to, and yet every time he gives me the opportunity, I fail. I love people, and yet I fail. I want to help people, and yet I fail. I want to be a good man, and yet I fail. I want to be like God, and yet I fail. It often seems that failure is what defines my life, and yet… in failing repeatedly I succeed in growing. From my failure grace brings growth and victory, and this is something that I truly do not understand and cannot replicate. I imagine that if I could… I really don’t know how to finish that sentence. I was going to say ‘I’d be rich’, but I really don’t want to be rich, so I doubt that I would.

Where the Mind Goes…

I am a wholly sinful man. All to often a wholly sinful man with very little control over his mind. I’m sitting in my favorite coffeeshop right now, praying and communing with God precisely because of this. There are some days when women hold no interest for me whatsoever… for anyone who reads this it’s probably obvious that those days are few and far between, but they do happen. There are many days when a particular woman is on my mind. Not always the same woman, the heart of a single man is a mercurial thing, but a particular woman. Then there are days like today.

I’m praying and meditating because a few minutes ago I realized where my mind was. I found myself not with a particular woman on my mind, but desiring every woman in the shop simultaneously. One had a prettier face, one had a smaller frame, one was dressed in a manner that caught my eye, one young woman had beautiful eyes, another had larger breasts, etc, etc, etc. I think I was on the verge of fantasizing about a seven-way. Needless to say, this is not something that I was comfortable with.

So, I turned to God. To the source of my hope and my peace, and then I decided to write about it. Both have helped immensely, and I find my mind moving back into the domains that I want to focus on. Not to say that any of the attractive women have left… well, maybe one has, but to say that the focus of my mind and heart have shifted. Laozi said ‘let me have fewness of desires’, and I think that this is very important. I could easily get lost in my desire. I could easily say ‘give me all the women’. I could easily find myself dissatisfied simply because what I desire isn’t what I can or should have.

Instead, as Christ tells us in Matthew, I want to seek first the kingdom of heaven. That is where my heart and mind should lie.

The other day I was talking with a friend of mine about women and relationships in general. She said something that struck me, not so much for what she said, but for my reaction to what she said. She told me that I deserve to find love. There was a time, not too very long ago actually, when my automatic response to this would have been ‘yeah, right’. This would have reflected not simply a belief that I wouldn’t find love, but that I didn’t deserve to be loved.

This wasn’t my automatic response, and this is a good thing. My automatic response was ‘I know’. I believe that I do deserve to find love (at least, as much as anyone does), and that I deserve to be loved. I believe that I deserve to find someone who will love me, desire me, and treat me like a king, and someone who I will love, desire, and want to treat like a queen.

As an aside, this is something that I think a lot of women today fail to realize. I have met a great many women who say something along the lines of ‘I should be treated like a queen’, and this is not untrue. If I love a woman then I should treat her very well. However, it is also an inherently selfish statement. I want to find a woman that I can treat like a queen, but I also want to find a woman who understands that she should treat her man like a king. I’m very good at finding woman whom I want to treat well. I am not good at finding women who want to treat me well. This then leads me to try to change them. They do not want to treat me well, and so I set out to teach them the importance of doing so. It becomes my quest not simply to make them better, but to make them what I want… which is inherently and extremely selfish and immature.

Back to my point: I am finally in a place where I actually believe that I deserve to be loved. However, my friend also said ‘you’ll find a woman who will fall head over heels for you’, and my instinctive response to this was still ‘yeah, right’. While I am in a place where I believe that I deserve to be loved, I still have trouble seeing myself as lovable and desirable. The whole issue that began this post is a part of the reason for that, but I also know that this is something that everyone deals with. My friend pointed out that I ‘have so much to offer a woman but don’t believe in’ myself… well, she said ‘yourself’… why I ended the quotes early.

…That probably didn’t need to be explained. Anyway, my friend was pretty chalk full of wisdom. She’s completely right that I still have a lot of trouble seeing myself as desirable. I can identify things about myself that I think a woman should want, but I don’t really believe that any woman does want these things… or at least, not from me. Part of this is simply experience. I’ve been rejected by a lot of women, and that does help to shape my beliefs… more reinforce that ‘shape’ if I’m honest. However, the actual problem is much deeper than that.

While I see myself as deserving of love, I still don’t really see myself as fundamentally lovable. I still retain some measure of the belief that there is something in me or something about me that makes people essentially incapable of loving me… even though I believe that I am deserving of that love. Like I said quite some time ago, if you take away all of the masks I’m still that scared little kid who wants his parents to love him, and there is no woman who can touch that.

This is something that I think God is currently working on, and I have no doubt that it is not an easy task. I don’t know what its going to take to change this, or how long its going to take. However, I am confident in him.

Bible Study Burdens

Today has not been a good day. Actually, it’s pretty much been a downright bad day. Here’s the thing, today could have been a good day, it probably could have been a great day, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t. I’ve been meeting with a group of guys for a kind of floating bible study for a while now, and this week the only time we could meet was at 5:30 this morning. That’s right, 5:30… in the morning. So, I went to bed early (like 11), and got up early so that I could be ready and awake for the bible study.

The problem is, for a few days now I’ve been doing my devotions, but not really doing them. You know what I mean. I’ve been in that place where I don’t really want to spend time with God, but I do out of duty. Don’t get me wrong, duty isn’t a bad thing. If someone is spending time with God out of duty, I’m certainly not going to tell them to stop spending time with God. However, there’s a big difference between dutifully going through the motions and really doing the minimum necessary, and passionately devouring the word and spending time listening to and communing with the father. So, for several days now I’ve been going through the motions because I haven’t actually wanted to spend time with God. Ever since my fast ended really.

This morning instead of being interested, motivated, and passionate about getting into the word with a good group of men, I was distracted and ambivalent. I like ambivalent, it’s a good word, but I really don’t like being ambivalent. So, three hours later when we finally get done, I take off and head home, deciding that I’m going to take the rest of the day off… well mostly… as much as I take any day off anyway. I did a little work, worked out, and then watched anime and played video games for most of the rest of the afternoon. The thing is, I spent the entire morning struggling. I was trying to relax and watch a funny anime, but I found that all I wanted to do was look at porn.

So, like the bloody idiot I am, I did. I really don’t like porn. Even if it didn’t appeal strongly to my basest instincts and lead my mind places that I’d rather not go, it has no redemptive value. There are no strong story lines in porn, no great acting, no clear social commentary, no meaningful dialogue… mostly because it’s all about getting off as fast as you can. So, that happened, and then I repented. Still, my day didn’t really get any better.

I’m not going to say that the stain of sin follows you around, it’s doesn’t. Once something is forgiven, that’s that, it’s gone. However, I was tired, lackadaisical, and somewhat morose for the rest of the day. I couldn’t really get into the game I was trying to play, and I wasn’t particularly interested in the show I was watching. I just didn’t particularly care about anything.

However, after most of a day of this I finally got myself off my ass and took a friend out to dinner. After that the rest of the night got better… until I ran into a mutual friend of that lady I’ve been thinking about. She told me that she and a couple of other mutual friends are thinking about fixing said lady up with another mutual friend… and again my day plummets downwards. Not for long this time though.

Here’s the thing. After all of this, all the struggle, the sin, the apathy, and the disappointment, I finally did what I should have done a while ago. I went and spent about an hour actually talking to God. Not listlessly flipping through pages in my bible. Not hurriedly saying a few rote words of praise and supplication. I spent an while actually talking to him. This made all the difference. It got me out of my funk for one, but he also pointed out that I shouldn’t have been particularly disappointed in the first place.

I’m finally happy being single, remember? Did I forget that? Why yes, yes I think I must have. I need to be single for a while to solidify that… well, to let him solidify that. I don’t need to be dating anyone right now, or pining after anyone right now, because I’m supposed to be single, and I knew that… I just forgot about it. More than that, as much as I might regret spending a few days thoroughly indifferent towards him, he wasn’t indifferent towards me.

We all go through times when we don’t particularly want to talk to God, and he always brings us out of them. Why? Because he’s perfect and we’re not. I failed to look to him for my strength, which I really needed after my fast, but he didn’t fail me. He was just waiting for me to be ready, and that took some doing. I think I’m getting better about recognizing these times and turning to him during them, but I still fail miserably sometimes, and he forgives me.

So, all in all, my day sucked. However, it turned out good in the end, when I finally turned to God for help. This brings me back to what I’ve said time and again. We must turn to God. The more quickly we turn to God, the better off we are, and the faster we’ll get out of whatever funk we’re in. Turn to God and let him bear your burdens. You sure as hell can’t do it alone.

Reflections

Sometimes I find myself just sitting and thinking about my life. Before I turned twelve I’d been shot at, thrown a kid off a cliff (don’t worry he didn’t die or anything), broken someone’s nose in two different fights, tried to kill myself, been beaten senseless several times, eaten and fed others poison berries, been called every bad word in the book by one or both of my parents, almost made my mother leave the family, fallen off a cliff (obviously I didn’t die either), and been thoroughly inculcated into the demonic (I mean that literally, not figuratively). Cognitively, I understand that this is a bad childhood. Actually, I think from the average American perspective, this is an extremely violent, troubled childhood. However, for me, it’s just the way I grew up. I realize that my childhood was violent and disturbed, but I generally don’t think of it that way.

Before I turned eighteen I’d tried to kill one person,  been told I’d actually killed someone else (and that I was being charged with manslaughter), put together a plan to set off a nerve gas bomb in my high school (it was a stupid plan in the first place), tried to kill myself several more times, made a habit of watching porn at least six hours a day, and started hurting people (especially women) in order to make myself feel good. I feel the violence and depravity of my teenage years much more than that of my childhood. There isn’t much in my childhood that I actually regret doing. I understand the things that were done to me, and the problems they caused, and I understand the things that I did to others. The core of pain that I’ve mentioned a couple of times now certainly had its start in my childhood.

However, many of my deepest regrets come from the things that I did during my teenage years. After I converted to Christianity these things haunted me for many years. I lost a lot of sleep over the things I’d done and the people I’d hurt. I spent days at a time praying for them, and begging God to make me a better person. I struggled with many of the sins that I’d lived in before my salvation, and I often wanted to walk away from the Christian life. God would never actually let me walk away though, no matter how much I fought him. I’ve never been one to run away, but I tried to run away from God, a few times.

God doesn’t let go of what’s his though. He’d track me down, tell me he loved me, and drag me back onto the straight and narrow path. He did this more times than I can count, and I can’t thank him enough for it. I don’t deserve such treatment. I’ve certainly hurt God more than most people, but he never gives up on me anyway. I want to be able to love like this, and in a few cases I’ve been able to (a very few cases).

I want to be more like Christ, and God keeps making me give up integral parts of myself in order to make me more like Christ. I have to admit, I like becoming more like Christ, but I’m not always fond of what it requires. I started my fast today.

You Think You’re Better Than Me?!

Christian exceptionalism pisses me off. American exceptionalism also pisses me off, actually… exceptionalism in general pisses me off, but Christian exceptionalism really gets to me. The idea that because I’m Christian I am therefore somehow better than others has done more damage to the cause of Christ than possibly any other single heretical belief, and it is a heretical belief. Scripture has nothing good to say about pride, and a lot good to say about humility, so why do we spend all our time thinking about how wonderful we are as Christians?

In the beatitudes Christ tells us that the meek shall inherit the Earth. Proverbs tells us that God destroys prideful men. Zephaniah tells us that those who are meek follow God. Peter and Paul both tell us to humble ourselves, repeatedly! Today, I had someone tell me that because he grew up in a Christian household he didn’t fall for crap (in context this was a discussion about how Americans simply take in information without assessing it). He may have meant that his parents taught him to analyze the information that was presented to him, or he may have meant that Christians have a natural immunity to crap. If he meant the former then I applaud his parents… but I’m guessing he meant the latter.

The idea that being Christians somehow makes us inherently less gullible, more virtuous, less responsible for our actions, or more worthy than others is utter hogwash. Many of the Christians that I meet have no real conception of their own sinfulness. They may say that they are sinful, may even mouth the words about being utterly wicked and needing God’s grace to save them, but if you look at their lives, especially at the way they look at others, talk about others, and act towards others, they don’t believe it. They are interested in judging people, interested in looking down their noses at people, interested in proving that they are better than others, but they aren’t interested in loving people or in helping people.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be above all this. I’ve done my share of judging, and I still do sometimes, to my shame. However, I think a lot of people confuse my unwillingness to take their bullshit excuses for their sin as judgment, and it’s not. I have plenty of my own bullshit excuses, and I generally won’t take them either. Actually, I know there are a few people who think that my calling them on sin is the same as my judging them for that sin, and I have no place to judge anyone. I’ve been a thief, I’ve tried to kill people, I’ve left some people permanently hurt, I’ve looked at truly massive amounts of porn, and at some truly and deeply sick porn. I am a prideful, lustful, jealous, wrathful, foolish, and ultimately destructive man. I’ve done things that I don’t like to think about, and certainly don’t like to talk about because I am ashamed of them, and I should be ashamed of them… well, perhaps not anymore. I am forgiven and redeemed, and that’s what matters. I won’t let the people I care about sin and not say something, but I also won’t stop loving them because of that sin. Our sin can’t change God’s love for us, and so it shouldn’t change my love for people. It took me a long time to learn that, and I’m still not perfect at it. There are too many times that hurt proves my love for someone to be phileo love and not agape love.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean that I’m better than anyone else, it just means that my sinfulness is covered by Christ’s righteousness, and that God isn’t going to stop working until he makes me worthy of that righteousness… and trust me, that process thoroughly sucks sometimes.

There is nothing that makes me better than anyone else, and there are probably plenty of things that make me worse. That might not be entirely true… humility is not simply being down on yourself, which is what we turn it into far to often. Humility is about seeing the truth, and letting yourself go. In Romans 12 Paul tells us to think of ourselves as we ought to think, and to think with sober judgment. Humility is knowing where we fit, what we can do, what we should do, and what we are worth. It goes hand in hand with honesty and integrity, and it doesn’t have either a high view or a low view of self. It’s not worried about self.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? We’re so worried about ourselves, making ourselves look good, making ourselves feel good, that we forget how to be humble and loving. Even our selflessness becomes selfishness because we focus so much on feeling selfless that we forget to actually care how someone else feels, and that in itself is selfish.

Anyway, that’s probably a rant for another time. Go out and give two craps about someone else.