Michael Horton relates this one in an interview with Christianity Today(via Mockingbird blog):
Someone asked Martin Luther what we contribute to salvation, and he said, 'Sin and resistance!'I also pretty much concur with Jeff Weddle on this one:
Christians are not very well-informed on their church history, which is why we keep falling into the same stupid beliefs and heresies.
And they are stupid. I might be the culprit[hand raised]. Every once in a while something I once said to someone comes to mind and cringe, thinking "I said that?" But then, we're all growing into maturity I suppose, not yet mature. Michael Spencer once related how he would revisit recordings of his old sermons, lamenting that sometimes, he put his head in his hands.
Anyway, here's one particular stupid belief that has been rearing it's ugly head lately: I'm awesome, and that's why I'm so committed to _________.
In reality, we stink at ________, and it's an amazing mercy of God that he hasn't stripped it away from us altogether. Jesus did it much better, and it really is more satisfying to look at his achievement of _________ than anyone else's. But then, if you're grid for judging something's quality is you're own feelings, or what you've experienced, or what you see around you, instead of the holiness of Jesus, then naturally you'll spend more time gazing at your own achievements. Someone said that anytime we use Scripture to justify ourselves instead of convict ourselves and display Jesus as better, than we're misusing it. Ditto for the Holy Spirit. Compare the "I'm awesome" message to John the Baptist(who was decidedly more awesome than you) "He must increase, but I must decrease."
On that note, the reason I'm posting today is because I was able to be part of a phenomenal gathering of believers yesterday in which a very normal guy sat with a group of people and, without pretending to be awesome or creating glitz and fanfare, taught about Jesus from the Scriptures. He used the book of Jonah. It was an experience unlike I've had in awhile, sadly, (and I blame at least half of that on my own lack of intentionality); the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me as he hasn't in a long time. What did he say? Well, the same general thing as he always does- in so many words "You're not awesome, Jesus is." I've realized, I'm starving for this. And despite the fact that I live in a town where there are approximately 8 zillion churches(seriously, I hear about a new church plant almost every week), most of them church plants of youngish people with some kinda ambition, often stated as such, to "be a different kind of church,"(a silly pursuit I'm now convinced), despite this, the jury's still out on whether Jesus is a major figure in the minds of these zealous folks. In fact, my default judgment is basically that, until proven otherwise, churches/Christians I run into are probably in the "I'm awesome" category, rather than the "I must decrease, He must increase" category. Just experience speaking.
Anyway, back to this gentleman who was teaching Jesus from Jonah. Something he said whirled around in my mind for the remainder of the day after he said it. Paraphrasing: "We're all trying to create this cocoon of reality around us in which we are able to say 'God's not here.' There's just so much we wouldn't say or do if Jesus was sitting right next to us." I can't tell you how much this statement is borne out by my experience.
Jonah. Running from God's call, refusing to obey, assuming his fear and hatred for Ninevites are qualities more suited to judging right than the command of a holy God. Hoping that God will simply find someone else. That's us. "God's not here," is the ultimate mantra of those who are convinced they're awesome. And why would we want him here? We're awesome, that's all that's necessary. Jesus, on the other hand, points the finger at people again and again and displays to them why they are not awesome. And why he has come, which is to be awesome for us. In light of Jonah, he comes to be the truer and better minister of Yahweh to the lost, brutal, pagans(us).
Jonah and I will occupy the same space in the history books. Jesus isn't remaking me in his image so I can gaze on myself. He's doing it so I can gaze upon him.