Reflections of a Broken Man

On Seeking Approval by StephenMac
August 18, 2009, 6:31 pm
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**Currently listening to Don’t Wait – Dusk and Summer, Dashboard Confessional… on an incidental note, this morning’s chapel song had a very DBC feel to it…**

At college, I am surrounded by super-intelligent people… Most times, I don’t notice it, but last night at dinner, I really did. I was having a conversation with a very distinguished scholar, and I couldn’t help but feel completely humbled by the simple fact that I got very lost in the conversation… I genuinely had no idea what was going on. I returned to my room, procrastinated by opening up the blogs that I subscribe to, and finding a discussion on “who did Christ die for?” – a simple question – but had nothing more than a superficial appreciation for the answers provided in the debate. This past day, I have felt out of my league for the first time in a very long time…

But that’s not my worry… so I’m mediocre… this I’ve understood for a while… Some men are born to mediocracy, others have mediocracy thrust upon them, and I’m both… But what really stunned me was my reaction this morning in class… This scholar visited our class, and I found myself trying to answer every question, trying to prove the fact that I had listened, that I had understood. I found myself seeking the approval of the lecturer…

There’s a certain shame that comes with realising that you’re a try-hard… And there’s something hypocritical about preaching against this a mere two days before. Physician, heal thyself.

How can I preach “You’re a failure, but Christ is your success, and you’re in him” when I can’t even appreciate that myself?!? To preach Christ-esteem is one thing, to still have low-self-esteem is another…

To seek the approval of men is nothing short of shameful and futile, and to ignore the self that Christ gives me is foolishness and leads to despair, disappointment, and pointlessness.


Friday Chapel by StephenMac
February 20, 2009, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: The Resistance by Anberlin**

I think this year, I might try something different, and rather than merely being a hearer of Friday Chapel Sermons (in one ear-out the other) I want to start thinking, processing, and discussing things from it. I want to be able to pick out what it is that God is saying to me, and then actually be changed by it.

This morning was a good example. We looked at Colossians 3:12-17. We began by asking the question of how we measure success as Christians. Now unless I missed something, I don’t think that this question was ever answered. I think the point that was trying to be made was that when we measure our success as Christians, we often use the “world’s” measures of success, and thus categorise ourselves as failures. We fail at prayer, evangelism, bible reading, moral life, all these things that we can measure, we know that as Christians, we are all poor at doing. And I understand this. But I think I missed the alternative measure of success…

I do remember that the final section was looking at how we should be clothed as Christians, as the “chosen ones of God”, “holy and loved”, we should act in a certain way. In particular, I was challenged by the fact that we need to be doing things with gratitude and thanks to God. I so often complain, whinge, whine, etc… I think that I need to be a lot more thankful and mature in my attitude.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him
Col. 3:17

The last few days I have drafted posts ranting about this or that, complaining about this or that. I’m very glad now that I never published them, because I realise that it’s just another sign of my immaturity.

There is a reason for this thankfulness too… it isn’t merely “that’s what nice Christians do” thing. It’s a response to grace. Personally (not sure if this was the reason mentioned this morning), it seems as though “achievement” and “success” in the Christian life are the wrong terms. Our life is not characterised by how much success we have in living the Christian life (we fail epically on that count), but rather the fact that we are called and chosen in Christ by God. There is no yardstick for that: we are in Christ who was successful, who has obtained all the achievements possible. And so we are to live like that, as people who are holy and loved. And so we are to be clothed in all these things that are mentioned in 12-16. Thankfulness is the result of being chosen, holy and loved.

I think our problem is that we see our lives, filled with daily sin and failure, and we forget that we are forgiven, we forget that we are chosen, we forget that we are holy, and we forget that we are loved. Why else would Christ be on that cross unless we were loved by him? And so we search for tangible success and end up disappointed. Perhaps the first part of thankfulness is being aware of the reality of our salvation. It is tangible. It is real. And it needs to be remembered and acted upon every moment in our lives.