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. 


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