As I talk with Christians, I often hear them claim things about themselves that are not validated by their life. They know they fall short, but try to convince themselves otherwise. They don’t understand that experiencing the struggle to live a life in Christ is how they are becoming what they claim. They are not there yet. Saying so does not make it so. Sadly, many Christians live under the delusion that if they believe hard enough about “who they are” they will become that person. However, that is not true faith. That is not reality.
Have you ever read a book and then believed you knew the topic because you read about it? Many Christians approach God this way. They read the Bible and think they know God because they’ve read about Him. They quote scripture believing they are quoting something about themselves. Maybe I’m sensitive to this since I pretty much did this very thing for decades.
You can think about and quote scriptures. But if you are not seriously trying to live scriptures then maybe its better for you to be silent and, in humility, admit that you struggle to live what you quote.
Why? Because you only know what you live. You only know something when you experience it.
You see, the idea of “knowing” has gotten messed up. To most people knowing means to know about something. If you can get it “into your head” or “understand it” intellectually then you know it. But knowing was never meant to be purely intellectual.
If you could ask only one of the following people to come speak about France at your Rotary Club, which one would you invite? The person who read a travel book on France? The person who vacationed in Paris? The person who lived in France for a year? Or the person who was born and lived in France, speaks the language and actually is French? Which person really “knows” France?
This does not deny that each person above has a certain knowledge about France. Each level of knowledge, however, has its limits. That is what needs to be humbly acknowledged.
Christians have a tendency to claim much about themselves that is not actually lived. “I know God.” “I am mature.” “I pray.” “I am a Christian.” “I love everybody.” “I am not judgmental.” “I am saved.” “I know the truth.” “I give everything to Jesus.” “I am filled with the Spirit.” “I am a follower of Jesus.” “I love you.” Easy to claim. Almost impossible to live.
Simultaneously, Christians hesitate to claim much about themselves that is actually lived. “I am impatient.” “I am judgmental.” “I am a controller.” “I am angry.” “I don’t love my enemies.” “I am proud.” “I trust myself more than God.” “I don’t know God.” “I lie.” “I am a hypocrite.” “I don’t act like Jesus.” Easy to live. Almost impossible to claim.
- Learn to live in repentance. Keep turning from your old self, your former ways, your faulty thinking and keep turning to God and his love, light and life.
- Start using the word “becoming” – I am becoming mature, becoming less judgmental, becoming a follower of Jesus, becoming more humble, becoming a Christian.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Sizing yourself up against other Christians is unwise and useless.
- Devote yourself to knowing God in your experience of Him. Learn an everyday communion with the Trinity. Struggle on the narrow way with God.
- On your spiritual journey, be quick to admit your faults and slow to claim mastery.
Don’t claim to know what you don’t live. You’re only fooling yourself when you do. Become more authentic.
Choose one of the solutions above. Begin to practice it today.