Theology Thursday: Comparing Yourself To Christ
Is it just me, or does it seem like the idea of "comparison" is becoming a more and more important part of our life on a daily basis? What I mean is that there is very little in the world that is just "good" or "bad" on its own merit, but things are made that way by comparing them to other things/people. Let me give you some examples:
- We very rarely choose our politicians based on who they are, but based on the fact that they are "not the other guy" as long as they believe the same way we do.
- We compare our church with other churches, and if the one down the street has "better" music or "better" preaching, then we run as fast as we can to join.
- We tend to rate our own families, vacations, workouts, and even meals based on what our friends and families have recently posted on Facebook and Instagram rather than the fact that we are blessed to be able to have meals, vacations, and families.
- We look at the sin in our own life and say, "well at least I'm not that guy" or even worse, we define ourselves by our own sin rather than by the very Savior who took that sin away.
When you describe the culture of America, I believe that right now one of the best ways to describe it is "comparative." Very few things are just true. Very few things are just right. Very few things are just good.
If we are reading this and we immediately started thinking about other people and their beliefs rather than our own...Guess what...We are definitely the problem (I use the word "we" purposefully)! If your first thought went to the other political party, people who believe differently about issues (abortion, LBGTQ, marriage, Critical Race Theory) than you, or just other people in general, then you miss the point.
We are all prone to this idea of comparison. It is part of who most of us are, and the prevalence of technology has seemed to quicken our pace towards a comparison-based culture. Sometimes, it is not bad. It is good to try to be the best version of yourself you can be and to have other people to push you.
There is also a huge problem with this type of culture...People Change. Things Change. Circumstances Change. And when those changes inevitably happen, then we are left wondering what to compare ourselves with next. When our favorite politician votes in a different way or a private conversation is leaked. When our church begins to struggle. When we or our friends lose jobs and have to fight for everything. When we find out that the "perfect" family on Instagram is as flawed as we are. In a comparison culture, these revelations can be life and belief shattering.
I cannot stand the "Comparison Culture" that I see today. It is not Christlike and it can lead to huge misconceptions about what it means to follow Jesus.
One of my favorite passages of all-time is found in Philippians 2:
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
Do you know what is better than comparison culture? A culture that is willing to lay their life down for other people. A group of people who follow Christ by actually following Him. A comparison culture exalts arrogance, pride, tolerance, and it exalts making excuses for those who agree with us and trying to destroy those who do not.
A culture marked by humility does just the opposite. It puts other people above ourselves while still calling out sin. It exalts Jesus as the Name above every name. It loves those who are different and those who are the same. It sees everyone as an image-bearer of GOD, and no matter their beliefs, orientation, or political affiliation it treats them as such.