This verse was in my Bible reading this morning. It struck me, but I wasn’t sure what was meant by it. In this passage Jesus is talking about those who bear witness for him, and how the Jews have not believed any of them. As I was reading I kept thinking, “well I believe that witness, check….” But this question of Jesus could not be so easily resolved. Yes, I believe, I hardly if ever remember a time when I didn’t believe. But here it seems he’s referring to actions. Ok, you say you believe, but how does your life reflect that belief? If you seek glory from one another and not from God, do you really, deep in your core, believe?
I wasn’t quite sure how this question applied to my life. How do I seek glory from people instead of seeking it from God? I then began reading more of A Glimpse of Jesus, by Manning. It’s funny to me that when I think I’m avoiding something, God always leads me back and makes it clearer. The chapter I began reading was entitled “Healing through Meal-Sharing.” Ok, it sounded benign enough. But as I read I was convicted. How often do I ignore people because I think they aren’t good enough? How often do I avoid the sinners Jesus fellowshipped with? Is this one way where I seek glory from men and not from God? I kept reading…
“The Church is a healing community proclaiming the Father’s indiscriminate love and unconditional grace, offering pardon, reconciliation and salvation to the down-trodden and leaving the judgment to God…Such a Church is then aware that it has no need to present a spectacle of higher morality to society, as if everything in it were ordered to the best. It is aware that its faith is weak, its knowledge dim, its profession of faith halting, that there is not a single sin of failing which it has not in one way or another been guilty of…If the Church self-righteously remains aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God’s kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Hans Küng, qtd in Manning, emp mine)
This opened up ideas I hadn’t thought of before. The churches I grew up in were the opposite of this picture. Everyone was perfect. Many were fairly affluent. We presented a picture to others of having it all together. This either helped to mold me or appealed to me because I am a perfectionist through and through. When I would read the “sin lists” I would think, “Thank goodness, none of those apply to me!” I recently realized that lack of trust, which I have been struggling mightily with, is not a small sin to God. But still I was not convicted that I was a big “sinner.” I have always felt in the story in Luke seven, I identified with the Pharisee who was forgiven little and loved little. (I know I was walking on dangerous ground.) I have lately been confronted that I’m not perfect, far from it. (I know a surprise to many. I was shocked too.) But still I would not allow myself to see it. Some of what I grew up with, and the God I had seen in church didn’t accept you if you weren’t perfect. So I admitted I wasn’t perfect then what would I do?
Then, when I read the words of Küng above, I felt release. You mean I can admit my sins, admit I’m not perfect and still be accepted? You mean this is the type of people Christ seeks, not those who present a clean face, but those who aren’t afraid to come when they are not yet clean? I had never connected the idea of sin and joy before. You mean the more I am aware of where I stand, the more joy I can have because I am aware of just what Christ can mean to me? I have heard this all my life. It’s printed on every page on the Bible, but I guess when so few Christians live this it’s hard to really believe. I’m not blaming others, but I don’t think we realize just how much we reflect what the world and other Christians believe about God and Christ. We can read it, but if we don’t see it, it’s hard to believe. Where I go to church now is better at accepting hurting sinners than any church I’ve ever been to, but still the lessons take time to set in.
In seeking the glory of people, I failed to realize how much I was missing out on. When I seek the glory that comes from the world, I have to hide so much of myself to be accepted. We all are, to some extent, like politicians trying to keep all of the skeletons hidden in our closets. If the public finds out what we’re really like then we fear, many times rightly, that they won’t love us or give us the glory anymore. It’s sad that we often feel this way around Christians too.
But I am tired of it. I’m weary with trying so hard to keep up appearances just to be accepted. Often times by people who I don’t even know and really shouldn’t care about. I want to lean how to seek the glory that comes from God. Learn to love and accept others, and myself, where we are without condemnation like Jesus did and does through us.