Now that you’re no longer feeling like a freak (see Monday’s blog), let’s make one other thing perfectly clear: there are NO SUPERIOR SAINTS! I learned a long time ago that the ground is level at the cross; none of us is standing on higher ground and no one is standing on lower ground. In fact, the only reason we stand at all is because Jesus has raised us from death to life. Everything we have (except our sin) and everything we are (except being sinners) is because of the grace of God.
My beloved Pastor Tullian often quotes William Temple’s fabulous one-liner: “The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary!” Therefore, there are NO SUPERIOR SAINTS! And yet the feeling of superiority and the seduction of putting others down is deeply woven into the sinful fabric of our lives.
Steve Brown has a great suggestion for those of us who have a tendency to feel superior to our brothers and sisters in Christ. He suggests, “I think it would be a great gift to the church if God was to make us all wear neon signs listing our ten greatest sins for all-the world to see. You say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! Everyone would know. It would be horrible for people to look at me and see all my sins!’ No, as a matter of fact, they wouldn’t even be looking at your neon sign. They would be too busy trying to hide theirs! And then we would finally get honest. That wouldn’t be half bad.”
Steve’s on to something there! If we were each wearing our own personal neon sin-sign, we’d be just like Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned: we would all feel so naked and ashamed that we would not be so focused on making others feel so naked and ashamed. And that would indeed be a good thing! The plank in our own eye would really bother us; the speck in others’ eyes would not. We could devote our time to coming alongside our brothers and sisters, instead of judging them and trying to get them to conform to our image and our expectations.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)
God has made us all different—one body with many parts—so we can fit perfectly into His plan and purpose for the advancement of His kingdom. It’s only when we are advancing the atrophied agenda of our own little kingdom that we find ourselves thanking God that we are not like other people. When it’s about our little kingdom, we have an insatiable need to be sitting in the chief seats and we will do whatever it takes to get there. But when we are focused on expanding God’s kingdom, superiority goes out the window.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. (Romans 12:4-6)
Paul is telling us that each one of us is both needed and valuable to God’s kingdom. Everyone has a place in God’s kingdom to carry out their God-given assignments. When we understand this, we begin serving alongside the family of faith rather than feeling superior to them.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!