Sunday, January 14, 2018

Goodness and Those Stretchy Pants...

I have the strangest thoughts in church. Take this morning, for example...

I was sitting there minding my own business taking sermon notes, and BAM! There it was:

 "saying you're good as a Christian is like saying you really don't need to 
lose weight because your stretchy pants fit." 

Where did that come from? Let me explain....

This morning in Sunday School my teacher made the comment that she was one of the good ones when she was a girl. She could run down that list of the Top 10 and check off every one of them. Then God got a hold of her and she had to repent of her goodness! Have you ever heard anything like that? 

Repent of your goodness. 

Then in church the pastor was preaching from James about hearing the Word of God and letting it become part of you and change you. It all worked together to bring me to the stretchy pants. Well, that, and the fact that I tried on a skirt this morning that I haven't been able to wear for years. I can get in it and zip it up, but it's not comfortable yet, and, well, let's just say, just because you can squeeze yourself into something (exciting as that may be) doesn't mean you should wear it in public. I wore something else, but couldn't wait to get home to get back in my leggings and t-shirt. 

Stretchy pants and t-shirts, and checklists of commandments can offer up false measures of where we stand. You may be able to check off all 10 commandments but I'm not sure there's anyone alive over the age of 12 who can honestly do that. The danger with checking ourselves off like that is: 1) we miss things or minimize them, and 2) that checklist can become a source of a prideful spirit in us that does not honor God. 

I can feel pretty good about myself if my clothes are a size too big and barely offer any resistance to the extraordinary mass I pour into them. Form-fitting things that zip and button are a different matter. They draw a line in the sand - or around the fat, if you will - and say, like Captain Picard, "this far, no farther!" 

Jesus looks at the heart. Scripture tells us that our best efforts - our righteousness - is like filthy rags compared to his perfection and beauty. There is also the example of the whitewashed cup - clean and sparkly on the outside, but nasty and disgusting on the inside. 

We can all find someone out there who makes us feel good about how we live and act, but that is never the real test. Jesus doesn't want us comparing ourselves to others; that is a breeding ground for judgement and pride. Our plumb line will always be the One whom we serve. When we can stand up next to him and feel like we've arrived, well, we'll be in heaven with him then. Until that time, I've got work to do.

So that's how I came to compare goodness and stretchy pants in church today. A weird thought, but strangely relevant. 

Have a great week. 


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fake it 'Til You Make It

My 2018 "should I be committed" list...

I'm a list maker, and I especially love to make lists for new beginnings. When a new year starts on a Monday it's so perfect! I've made my goals for 2018 and now, because I need the accountability, I've made checklists for everything. Daily, weekly, monthly, and for the year. They're all on a nicely color-coded check-sheet that I will review most every day - at least weekly. 

There's something very satisfying about crossing something off a list, so much so that I've often added something I've already completed just so I can mark through it. Now I find myself doing some things not because I need to do them, but because I want to be able to check the box. It's not the best motivation but I'm hoping it will be the foundation for establishing new and better habits. In other words, I'm going to fake it 'til I make it.

When I look at my list of goals for this year, well, it's a lot. I'll be pushing myself out of my comfort zone for some things, and simply pushing myself in others. There's a lazy soul in me that wants to  throw away all of the lists and just coast for a while, but I find there's a bigger part of me that wants to get to the end of 2018 and look back on a lot of checked-off boxes that represent a commitment to accomplishing things that matter to me.

My memory verse for this week (one of my commitments) is Philippeans 3:13b-14:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the 
goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

At the end of the day I want to know that the things I make time for are those things for which God has given me some talent, the things that will bring him glory. I will try to do them with excellence, and with a teachable, grateful heart. I will try to use the gifts he's given me, no matter how small, and trust him to bring good things from my efforts. 

So for 2018...

~be grateful

~be intentional

~be committed

and press on!