Righteous Christianity and You. That’s the title of this post, and the point implicit within it isn’t that you are or aren’t righteous, Christian, but that another who is not you may yet be a righteous Christian. But perhaps that’s too many short words, so here I’ll spell it out:
You are not the standard for righteous Christianity; Christ is.
You may very well be righteous and moreso as the days pine on,
But the same can be said of her. And him.
When you entered into covenant relationship with God, you surrendered yourself. As Russell Moore has taught us, true Christianity doesn’t invite Jesus into your life, it begs to become subsumed into the life of Christ. You have identified yourself as Christian, Believer, Disciple, or whatever the newest ‘early church’ term is. But Christianity is the family name, you are the family member; Christianity is the blue whale, you are the parasite who feeds of its life. When you became a Christian, the Church world didn’t reorient its being to your every theological whim and social ethic. There are fellow believers who are not like you.
I know the thought that runs through your mind at this point. It’s something like, “Yeah, but at least I…” I know that’s your thought because it is my thought too. And to some extent, some small measure, you are speaking truly: there are some things you do and understand which others fail to. Everything you believe, you think is true—otherwise you wouldn’t believe it. And yet, there are some things which really, truly, in fullness of reality, are actually not a matter of right/wrong, true/false, good/bad, Christian/pagan. The sad thing? I tend to think that even in these areas, I have a capital on Christianity: my preferences are preferred by God. But deep in my soul, God the Holy Spirit has been teaching me: I am not the standard of righteous Christianity; Christ is; Not everybody must look, think, laugh, and act like me to be saved by the grace of God into a faithful covenant relationship in the kingdom of God.
I’m thinking back to a morning I sat with my girlfriend in a local coffee shop. A group of high school-aged boys came in to do a Bible Study together. I should have been encouraged! Instead, I was skeptical and critical, looking for reasons to criticize and mock them. As if that was the way to fulfill the commandment of loving one another. As if Christ didn't suffer the wrath of the Father to bring me into communion with him and humanity. As if I wasn’t once in high school; studying a chapter of a Pauline epistle; struggling with social maturity along the way. And though the lesson was learned that morning, I would be ashamed to know the exact moment it was again forgotten.
Do not make your study group conform to your image of Christianity—they are made in the image of God being transformed into the image of Christ in righteousness. Do not expect your pastor to live Christianity the way you do—in doing or not. Do not quote “You will know a tree by their fruit” in order to console your dark soul as you castigate fellow believers. Recognize the beauty of diversity which God has endowed humanity.
You cannot expect people to be made into your image. That’s idolatry.
Not all Christians look like you.
Some enjoy art. Some enjoy food. Some enjoy reading. Some enjoy writing. Some enjoy fashion. Some enjoy coffee. Some enjoy beer. Some enjoy off-roading. Some enjoy soccer. Some enjoy movies. Some enjoy home. Some enjoy travel. Some enjoy video games. Some enjoy campfires. Some enjoy alone-time.
I pray that you are sanctified and that today pushes you further into our Triune God. I pray that you are righteous in part, and tomorrow you will be righteous in more.
"I'm Better Than You" by Tim Challies