DayBreaks for 1/09/18: In a Different Light Entirely
Hardly a day goes by without me comparing myself to someone else in one way or another. It might be as simple as comparing how tall (or in my case, short) I am to someone else (I’m delighted when I find people who are more vertically challenged than I!) or thinner. It might be looks (but I usually wind up on the short end of that stick, too). Sometimes, though, it takes a more serious and harmful bent. I can start comparing my faith to that of others, or my practice of daily spiritual disciplines or my integrity to others. And when I read all the stuff that shows up on the internet each day, or hear about the horrible actions of someone on the news, I can get rather puffed up about myself. That’s why it is so serious and harmful – because I have no room to get all puffy about myself.
The problem, you see, is that when we compare ourselves to others, we quickly go right past comparison into judgements. And judging others is a very, very serious and deadly business. It’s not only serious because we’re admonished “Judge not” and that we’ll be judged in the same way we judge others, but it’s deadly when we start to think that I’m okay as I am because after all, look how much better I am than Tom or Sally, George or Jane. And the result of that is that I start to think that I don’t need Jesus very much.
Here’s what Fred Craddock, a great Christian preacher, said: “What’s frightening about listening to John (the Baptist) preach is that he puts you in the presence of God. And that’s what everybody wants, and that’s what everybody doesn’t want. Because the light at the altar is different from every other light in the world. In the dim lamps of this world, we can compare ourselves with each other, and all of us come off looking good. We convince ourselves that God grades on the curve, and what’s the difference? We’re all okay. And then you come in the presence of God, and you’re at the altar, and it’s all different. For if our hearts condemn us, think of this – – God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. There’s no way to modulate the human voice to make a whine acceptable. The whining is over. The excusing is over. It’s the school, it’s the church, it’s the board, it’s the government. It isn’t! All that’s over. It just stops. Like waking from a dream of palaces and patios to find the roof leaks and the rent’s due. Like shutting off the stereo, and you hear the rat gnawing in the wall. That’s just the fact of it. In my mind, I serve God. But there’s another force in my life, and I say, `I’m going to do that.’ I don’t do it. I say, `I’ll never do that.’ I do it. Crucified between the sky of what I intend and the earth of what I perform. That’s the truth.”
Ouch. As they say, truth hurts.
Any human comparisons we make are vain, pointless and dangerous. There’s only one Light that shows reality: the Light that is bright enough to get past every one of our defenses and shows us for what we are so we will realize how desperately we need Him!
PRAYER: Spirit, we invite you to shine Your light into our lives and reveal our guilt in comparing ourselves to others and taking solace in what we see in that very dim light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.