I'm just going to throw this out there: Have you ever secretly wished someone might fail so you might look good?
I can't really back pedal now and pretend I was asking the question without first-hand experience. That would be a bold-faced lie AND sneaky. It is neither.
I started to really examine my thoughts recently as I am reading a book by Francis Schaeffer called, "True Spirituality." (Interestingly enough, there is now a need to qualify spirituality by designating Truth. Yet, there is no spirituality outside Truth, just as there is no God outside Jehovah. Another day, perhaps?)
Let's get back to your confession, you say. Well, alright. Here it goes. I realize I am making myself vulnerable (as we were encouraged at LeaderShape), so here's to that.
I've noticed this ridiculous thing in me... a suspended suggestion that hovers whispering between my ears. It usually happens in group settings, when I feel most called to present myself as an ambassadors on behalf of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:20). I start to feel a little pressure, a little frustration, and the words racing around in my mind stumble over one another. I may appear composed, but inside I'm frantically trying to figure out how to represent. And then it happens...
I'm doing my part of a group activity, when I look up and see someone else shining. The whisper suggests, "Wait, that person doesn't believe and follow Christ... why are they so likable?" and "That's not supposed to happen - only true believers can understand joy!" and "There's no way that person could really understand love or suffering or compassion - why are they making so much sense?"
Okay - go ahead - throw the stones. I know this sounds elementary and proud and shameful. I didn't say I wasn't ashamed. I just said the silly, suspended suggestions are there. What I do next, of course, is the test.
I have self-diagnosed a classic case of the gospel is about me. If I am so concerned with appearances, keeping score of who shows joy and pain and sorrow, than I've made the gospel about less than Jesus. Praise God that he has mercy on such a fool!
Paul cautioned the church in Corinth to remember what they were before Christ redeemed them... that no one was wise.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Am I so puffed up that I can sit back making judgments about who is happy and what good can be done? Shame on me.
We are all created in the image of God, every single one. We each bear the marks of the Creator and without knowing or trying, we each reflect His glory. The Lord is gracious to name us heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). What shall I do then, having done nothing to receive such a gift? Shall I shrink back to pre-redeemed ways, wanting only my personal gain? No. I would then only use Christ as a mere tool for my own pride.
Romans 8:17 continues, "if we indeed share in his sufferings that we might also share in his glory."
So, regardless of what my mind or any other whispers to distract the True glory at hand, I know that a true ambassador sees the glory of God in every face. A true ambassador speaks in love and knows that the gospel never returns void.
A true ambassador is not a name, but a servant. And these ambassadors will suffer with Christ and see His glory.
... I just realized I meant to speak more on Francis Schaeffer. I suppose I will come back to him again.