something-is-wrong

“Cheer Up! You Are Worse Than You Think.” (2 of 3)

“Cheer up! You are worse than you think.”

In my last post, I started sharing the story of how in the midst of what most observers would label “an exemplary Christian life” God woke me up and started me on a healing journey of discovery. If you missed that post, go back and read it first so this segment will make sense.

My journey started nearly 20 years ago—around the time I heard:

“Cheer up! You are worse than you think.”

Something was wrong. I knew the biblical answers, but my heart was dull. What was it? That question became my quest. But, that phrase kept rolling around in my head …

Cheer up??? How can being less godly be something to be glad about?

Taking an honest look in my heart, I came to recognize that I’d spent most of my Christian life managing my image. I was trying to make myself look good—and now I was being told that I’m supposed to feel good about realizing that I’m worse than I thought? Cheer up?

But—if being worse than I thought is good news, there must be more to the story. Otherwise, how is there any way I could experience news about my rebellious heart as good news?

That’s when I heard the second half of the statement:

“Cheer up! The gospel is far greater than you can imagine.”

Could it be that behind all my image management was a misconception of the gospel? That would explain my responses. I was acting as if I had to use my good performance to somehow make up the difference between what Christ had done and what was needed. Certainly, I would have affirmed that the gospel was good news, but I was acting as if there was still a lot riding on my good behavior. God’s full success depended on me. I was subconsciously feeling (remember my low level of passion) like the gospel may have been helpful when I was initially “saved” to give me a new start, but I thought I was doing a fairly good job taking it forward from there. I realized my efforts were subconsciously designed to make God notice me for my exemplary life.  And even more tangible, my “exemplary missionary service” was being successful in gathering praise from the Christians on the sidelines, and that certainly felt good!

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But when I began to recognize the underlying motivation in my heart (seeking to earn God’s favor and win the favor of other Christians), I began to see the darkness behind my “good Christian” life: self-righteousness. I could begin to see how my focus on and validation in my Christian service, I had actually diminished the significance of the gospel.

If the gospel is far greater than I had imagined, it would completely restructure how I was living my life. It would change my motivations. It would also change how I measured success and failure. It would create an entirely different emotional environment in my heart.

That was a new beginning for me.

In my next post I’ll flesh out what that new beginning has meant in my life.

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