I used to think my faith was more sincere than that of others. It sounds strange now, as I think about it; but its even stranger that it has taken me all this time to even acknowledge that I’ve been feeling superior on the spiritual ‘side of things.’ Its as if I know a secret that others missed: an greater discernment of the spiritual reality of the world. Its obnoxious to think of oneself in this way but only in retrospect. Its not so obnoxious in the moment.
The moment I “discovered” this bad habit was a moment of prayer at church. As I sat in the back rows and began what I had predetermined would be a short prayer. Just as I started to pray I lifted up my head and saw the rest of the people in the auditorium and felt compelled to pray for them. I wasn’t going to pray for them necessarily out of love but more so because it seemed to me that they needed to “see the light” as well as I did. Looking back, I see now I’ve done this many times before. Maybe the raised back rows of an auditorium overlooking everyone else gives me a false sense of greater perspective. It’s as if for one moment I was pretending to be a poor knockoff of the Teacher, Jesus, when he ‘looked upon the multitudes.’ But I can’t look upon the multitudes in the same way because I can never pretend to know “the multitudes” the way Jesus did in those moments when he truly saw people and their hearts in need of him.This brings me back to that moment of prayer. Just as I was in this strange self-exalting moment of contemplation and just before I began to recite this prayer I heard a voice that said ‘you are all the same.’
All these years I had felt superior I had been taking away the one important theme that comes with faith: that not one person is more deserving of God’s love than any other fellow human because no one is deserving at all. Not at the outset. It is only Jesus who is deserving of being praised because he was the one who performed all the work. It is through faith in his works that the love of the Father can be poured out equally to those who believe in the Son. It seems that basic tenets of faith can escape me sometimes and if they escape me it is because of my never dying desire to have a piece of the glory. Anyway, my marvelous “discovery” was confirmed by two excellent items on that Sunday’s service: A recitation of the Nicene Creed (the basic faith that I mentioned above). The message that morning was called “The Stability of Our Times” and it was a great exposition of 2 Peter that included this verse:
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. ~ 2 Peter 1:1