Holier Than Who? Or Heaven Can Wait

Have you ever been around a non-Christian who gets halfway into a juicy swear word, then falls all over himself when he remembers that you're a Christian?

   Some Christians would be proud, thinking that their mere presence cleared the air a bit; but I don't like it. A situation like that always makes me feel detached from the human race, as if I just sprouted wings and wore this silly glow over my head. (Is this what Jesus meant by being a light in the world — glowing in the dark?)

   Where do non-Christians get the idea that we're better than they are? I'm sure some of it comes from a sense of their own guilt, but I'm sure that we contribute to this "spiritual class system" by being dishonest about our own lives.

   Christians get frustrated the same way other people do. We also worry about money, fight with our mates, lose our tempers, gossip, and distrust one another. We even swear; except we have "Christian" swear words like "gee," "darn it" and "shoot." Does changing a few letters somehow sanctify an outburst of anger?

   It's true that spiritually we're seated with Christ in the heavenlies;

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but temporally we still have our feet firmly planted on earth, where our sanctification is still in progress. Heaven is our goal, but for now, heaven can wait.

   It concerns me that non-Christians feel condemned by Christians. It concerns me to realize that some Christians are doing the condemning. If Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, why should we?

   Jesus even earned the label "friend of sinners." This is truly remarkable when you consider that He was sinless. If anyone had the right to be "holier-than-thou," it was Christ; and if anyone should feel condemned around Him, it was sinners — especially sinners like prostitutes or crooked tax collectors. Yet these people found Him to be their friend: a strong affirmation of Christ's humility as the Son of Man.

   A friend is someone who allows you to be yourself while encouraging you to change, so I doubt these people cleaned up their acts when Christ was around. Jesus must have endured some vulgar language for the sake of trying to get through to these people's hearts. They must have felt His love in spite of themselves.

   Jesus described Himself as "meek and lowly of heart" (Matt. 11:29). What a beautiful description of His compassion toward sinful people. His heart dredged the bottom of humanity; He knew it all; nothing could shock Him.

   Our idea of righteousness, on the other hand, is much more fragile. It can easily be offended. I wonder if this is because our hearts aren't opened far enough to deal effectively with the sin in our own lives. We feel less guilty about tolerating our own comparatively "little" sinful compromises by vehemently condemning the gross sins of others.

   It's time for Christians to rejoin the human race, to face our own humanity and find the ability to look compassionately on our other friends in the world. Our link with the world is our humanness. We don't have wings and we don't glow in the dark, but we do know who forgives us and gives us hope.

   When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed the beginning of the acceptable day of the Lord. He accepted sinners on the basis of the Cross.

   That day is still here and our purpose is to continue to proclaim it, not to delete expletives. Some Christians give us the

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impression that our purpose is to establish righteousness and judge sin. However, these are Christ's duties, and neither is His concern right now. Sin has already been judged on the Cross, and righteousness will be established in heaven.

   But this is earth; heaven can wait but our neighbors can't. Let's be honest and let's be friends; through our humanity let's point people to our salvation . . . and theirs.

   If all we do is make non-Christians feel we're better than they are, we've truly missed our mission in the world.

Chapter 41  ||  Table of Contents