September 8, 2011

Honestly Trying

While I was on vacation I tried to read Craig Groeschel's book, 'Confessions of a Pastor'. I won't lie I only made it through the first two chapters. Now this is not to say that it is a bad book, just that I didn't care for it. Never the less the premise of the book still intrigues me.

The idea Groeschel put out there was that all Christians, especially pastors needed to drop the pose, or the mystique as he calls it. Instead he claims we all ought to live a far more honest and transparent life. Honest about our failing, and transparent about our struggles.

All and all I am for this. But as I was reading what little I did I found myself wondering something; Groeschel seems to be saying that our less transparent, more mystique filled lives are fake. I am not sure that is always the case.

Maybe this is why I didn't care for the book. I found his teaching to be somewhat at odds with both how I have been taught, and something that I teach. Somewhere along the way, and at this point I don't really remember when or by whom, I taught that the Fruits of the Spirit, and the Christian Virtues were not going to simply spring out of me.

Instead by accepting Christ, the Spirit has planted the seeds within me and desires for those characteristics to grow. However such growth is more akin to resistant weight training, then it is to classroom education. Therefore I could read as many books about kindness, patience and charity as I wanted but all I would achieve is gaining more knowledge. However if I wanted to be more patient, more kind and more charitable I had to go out there and simply do those things.

Put another way I had to 'pretend' to be patient even though underneath my exterior was a temper tantrum wanting to happen. Likewise I had to act kind even if I would much rather be snarky, and I had to give to charity even if I much rather spend the money on myself.

Is this my confession; maybe

At no point while I have been doing this have I considered myself to be a lair, or a faker. I'm not putting on a Christian front to deceive others nor do I consider myself perfect. Instead I think of myself as practicing. Just like when I first rode a bike I wobbled, and fell as I journey and grow as a Christian I wobble and fall.

When I took the training wheels off my bike, I wasn't lying, and I was not trying to deceive others into thinking that I was some sort of bicycling expert. Instead both my parents and I knew I was only going to learn by practice. And practicing means falling, and failing means getting back up again.

I don't want people to think, that I think I am perfect. I am not, and I have no illusions otherwise. I know my struggles and my failings. I know I am not perfect.

But then again, I am trying to be.

Walking as Jesus did, taking on the heart attitudes and actions of Christ means I am striving in the power of the Holy Spirit to be like him. That is the promise of scripture. That we will be made to be like Jesus; and Jesus was perfect.

So instead of setting up the unnecessary tension between faking Christianity and living Christianity maybe we can consider the less radical notion of; honestly trying. As in I am trying to be someone and to act in a way that is contrary to my fallen nature, but I am honest with the fact that most days I fail.

So if you see me out stuck in a long line at a grocery store, or cut off in traffic, or if you hear me being insulted or put down and I am calm and smiling. I am not lying about how kind, forgiving or patent I am, but I am practicing.