How Should A Christian See Themselves?

What’s the way a Christian should view themselves? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christians are supposed to be people of humility. No disagreement there. The problem is sometimes we think humility means thinking less of yourself and thinking lowly of yourself. It means you can’t accept compliments or praise from other people. This is not humility. If anything, it’s pride. It’s putting an emphasis on yourself really instead of graciously accepting praise. (You can receive praise in an arrogant manner after all.)

Yet the reality is we should not think of ourselves in lowly ways. We should realize the Bible itself really speaks highly of us. Of course, I can’t cover everything, but I will try to hit some highlights. Note I won’t share something if I think it applies specifically to, say, the nation of Israel and not to us.

First off, Genesis 1:26-27 says we’re in the image of God. Now in my view, this is meant to say that we are to represent God on Earth, but whatever view one takes, it’s not a lowly thing. Of everything in creation, only human beings share the image of God. Angels don’t. Other animals don’t. Only us.

Psalm 139 is one of my wife’s favorite passages. Why does the Psalmist praise God? Because he is fearfully and wonderfully made? Wonderful? Yep. You are a wonderful creation. My own wife struggles with a lot of mental illnesses and wonders how I can love someone like that. I tell her consistently I don’t see the illnesses. I know they’re there and I’m not blind to them, but I see her first. As far as I’m concerned, she is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

If we move on to the New Testament, the incarnation itself is a statement about us. God is not ashamed to take on the form of a man. The Son to this day still maintains His humanity. Humanity is not a disgusting and shameful thing.

If anything, Jesus is the only one who is truly human. He is the most normal human being that has ever been. Every other human being is unhuman in some ways, insofar as we are sinners. Jesus had no shame in being a human being and has no shame in it right now.

In speaking of us in the sermon on the mount, He calls us a city on a hill, the light of the world, and the salt of the Earth. We are to be all of that to the world around us. Jesus could have had it be that He would go out into all the world or send angels into all the world. Nope. He trusted the Great Commission to us.

In Luke 12:32, we have one of my favorite passages. “Fear not little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Get that? Not obligation. Not duty. Pleasure. God takes joy in giving us the Kingdom.

If anything, God has no obligations and duties towards us. The only thing God ever owes us really is what He’s already promised us. If we all got what we deserved, well, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now and I’d be in a place of eternal shame and misery. So would you. This should also give us pause with our own enemies at times. We often pray for justice for them and mercy for ourselves. Whatever they have done to us, we have done worse to God.

Jesus also tells us that we are worth more than the sparrows and the flowers and that God knows what we need. He doesn’t promise to give us our wants, but ultimately, we will get what we need. It’s our own fault if we do not trust Him.

Romans 8 is a great passage for Christians to turn to. I have a fear that many of us turn to Romans 7 and read it as autobiography and see ourselves in it. We should really realize that if we want to see what Paul says about us now, it’s in Romans 8. Go through and read the passage. It’s about you.

In 1 Cor. 3, Paul tells the church that they are the temple of God. Think about this. Your bodies are where the Holy Spirit now dwells if you are in Christ. Paul wrote this while the temple was standing. That beautiful massive work that took about 30 acres or more up in Israel was just nice architecture then. The real true temple is you. God has chosen to take up residence in you.

Galatians tells us that we are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. (Or daughters) Do you realize how big a deal adoption is? A reigning Caesar was an adopted son even. God has taken you into His family.

There’s a story that Napoleon was on the battlefield once and his horse ran off. A private ran after the horse, retrieved it, and brought it back. Napoleon looked at him and said, “Thank you, captain.” That men went back to the camp and immediately went into the captain’s quarters and lived like a captain. Napoleon had said he was one. That was good enough.

From the late first to the early second century there was a philosopher named Epictetus. He wasn’t a Christian, but he had a lot of wisdom. One of his favorite of the golden sayings of his that I like is the following, the ninth one.

“If a man could be throughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?”

Seriously. If God says you are His son (or daughter) on what basis do you downplay yourself? Is it a lowly thing to be a child of God? It’s really prideful to try to overrule that with lowly thoughts.

Ephesians 2 tells us that God has already seated us in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. He will have us in His presence for all the ages to show the love He has for us. Get that? God loves us so much that He will take eternity to show us how much He loves us. If it could ever be fully expressed, it’s not much of a love.

Why do spouses pursue and chase after each other? (Or they should.) It is because they can never fully express the love they have for the other. The beautiful thing also about such love is it keeps growing itself. It’s a cycle that the more you do loving things, the more you love. The more you love, the more you do loving things. I love my wife today more than I did when I married her. I hope when we’re together for fifteen years I will say, “Wow. I didn’t have a clue what love was back then compared to what it is now.”

Paul goes on to tell us that we are no longer strangers and aliens, but we are citizens of God’s house. We are fellow citizens with saints. We are not slaves in the household. We are heirs in the household. We aren’t hired hands. We have been asked to live there and it’s not because we provide a service, but because we are wanted.

In Philippians 3, Paul will refer to the people as citizens of the Kingdom. This was said to a colony where everyone was a Roman citizen, the most powerful empire on Earth at the time. That citizenship didn’t matter nearly as much as citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Peter tells us we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. It’s like Peter is trying to lay it on us how much God has done for us. This was to be the case for Israel, but now it’s the case for us.

1 John 3:1 is a very explicit passage. It’s about the love that God has lavished on us that we should be His children, and that is what we are! It’s as if John cannot really believe it or doesn’t really think we’ll believe it, or both. He has to restate it so it will hit home.

All of this and more is what God says of us. If anything, our problem isn’t humility, but pride. We think we know better than God. We think we know who we are and He doesn’t.

How are to respond to this? Think of the way a spouse responds to another. If you respond with arrogance, it’s wrong. When I realize the love my wife has for me, it leaves me in humility. It leaves me amazed that someone like me is loved and it makes me want to be a better man.

God does not love us because we are worthy. He loves us even when we are worthless so that we can be worthy. The lesson of Beauty and the Beast is that you must love something before it becomes lovable. It’s not that we’re so awesome God loves us. It’s that God loves us because He’s so awesome, and that love makes us pretty awesome in the end too.

In the same way a spouse should respond, so should we. I can assure you if I responded to Allie’s love by acting like I was all that, I would be very unlovable. Nothing wrong with confidence. That’s good. Something wrong with inflating your own ego. Graciousness and appreciation is the way to respond.

Christian. You are loved. Have an honest assessment of yourself starting with what is said in Scripture about you. It will help immensely.

On Being A Current Apologist: A Response To Randy Hardman

What are some realities of the life of the apologist? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Randy Hardman has made some waves lately with an article that can be found here. I read it last night as a friend sent it to me so we could all discuss it. As you can imagine, many of my friends are apologists in the field.

Perhaps I should start with how I got in the field. For me, it was when I was on AOL and doing internet evangelism. Before too long, I realized I needed to have something to say to atheists that came in. I was just useless there.

Now there was a guy I had seen at Bible College one time studying apologetics. I asked him what it was and he told me. I filed it away. That memory came back when I was discussing this with an online friend. He recommended I read More Than A Carpenter. It was a good read, and I got started using it that night. Then I remembered a book I heard about called The Case For Christ.

I consider that the book that lit my fire.

And before too long, I was coming home constantly with books. My mother was in a panic wondering where she was going to put them all. I was playing video games less and reading more and seeking to learn more. Also, the depression and panic attacks I’d struggled with for the past few years were going away.

Now this isn’t to say I wasn’t without problems still. I am an Aspie after all and there will always be limitations because of that. My diet was still incredibly unusual being highly limited and I still had a social awkwardness around me. I often tell people that one of the best parallels you can see for someone like me is Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.

But I had a passion. I had a way I could use my mind and serve God at the same time. Why had no one ever told me about this before? I enjoyed the exchange of ideas and the debates that went on and to this day, I still do.

I want you to keep all of that in mind as we go through this.

This is not to say I am unaware of the danger of pride. In fact, I’ve taken steps to avoid that. One great step I’ve taken really helps, although I cannot say I took this step for the purpose of avoiding pride, but it’s a nice side-effect. It’s called “Getting married.” Allie loves me dearly, something that amazes me, but she does not love a man who is prideful. If I want to be the man who brings a smile to her face, I have to be a humble man.

Another important step I’ve taken is having mentors. One in particular is a man in the field I email every night and share with him how my day has gone, what my struggles are, and that I’ve prayed. To be fair, prayer is not something easy for me. It’s hard for me to focus. I say what I need to say and then go about my day. I start off my morning first by reading a chapter from both testaments and then praying about what I’ve read. I love my wife, but I don’t even kiss her in the morning until I’ve done my time with God. In the evening as I go to bed, I read a few verses from a Psalm now and think about it as I go to bed and ask myself questions about the text and pray some about it too.

If I receive a criticism, I will often pass it on to mentors and say “Do you think there is any truth to this? Do I have something to work on?” These are also people who I know will shoot me straight. They’re not going to sugar coat things for me.

Now to be fair, I do like receiving compliments and personally, who wouldn’t? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We should be thankful when people say good things about us and our work and really mean it. An important step I take however is that many of those compliments, you will never hear about unless they’re made publicly. The only people I tell usually are my wife, my parents, and her parents. These are the people who are already impressed with what I do. In fact, they want me to celebrate such good messages with them.

At the same time, I do realize in this field that you do have to do some work to get yourself out there. That’s why I have a page on my blog with endorsements that I have received. After all, if I hope to speak at churches regularly, I want the people to know that I am someone who has done serious work in this field and why they should be open to having me.

I can say there are areas I struggle with. For instance, Allie and I went to see Son of God recently. It’s a good movie, but honestly, I’m not moved much by Jesus movies. I don’t know why it is. It could be my Aspie personality. I find myself much more moved by a good book on the historical Jesus that brings out to me who Jesus really is. If I get a new insight into how to read the Bible or a theme that Jesus taught, that holds me in far more awe. Yet I do look at my lack of full delight at the movies and think “Is it a lack of love on my part for God?” I won’t deny, of course, as Allie and I have talked about this, that we all do lack some in our love of God. We can all bear to improve and no doubt, none of us realizes really the extent of the forgiveness we have been given.

There are times being an apologist can be hard. It can be difficult when you’re about to go do something that you want to do and here comes someone with a question and you know, you have to help them out at the time. They really need it. You have to learn to put your own desires on the back burner and fulfill your duty to serve others first. (This is a hard lesson to learn in marriage also when it’s easy to think that you can’t always get what you want first or do what you want first.)

One of the worst stigmas to deal with also is the sense of being unappreciated. As an apologist, I know very well how important what I do is. I have a great sorrow when I hear people talk about those who have fallen away from Christ. It’s saddening. It gets worse when you go to so many churches and offer to serve them and speak or do a class and do it free of charge and get told “Nah. We don’t really need that now.”

Because every time you know they do.

It’s hard when you walk around in a public place and you wonder how many people are Christians and think “Do you know how many bullets are being taken for you every day?” I think it could be compared to police officers and military men who can often be portrayed as villains. We in the apologetics community especially can because since we prize knowledge so much, well we just think we’re smarter than everyone else and don’t we all know that we’re just supposed to have faith? What’s with all this talk about facts?

Money makes this even worse. My wife and I have to depend on others so much just to survive and thus, you can imagine the indignation I can feel when I watched the TV earlier this year and saw announcements about Joel and Victoria Osteen coming to Knoxville to speak. I think tickets were $35 a pop. I meanwhile go to the grocery store and know I have to be extra extra stingy because there is so little to be spent on groceries and have to consistently tell my bride that I can’t get her something she’d like as much as I want to.

If you think I’m talking about having wealth like the Osteens, I’m not. I care about having enough that Allie and I can make it easily enough. Perhaps do something special together every now and then as well. I never want to really be wealthy however. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that if we get rich, we might come to deny God. I know there are many Christians who are rich and have not forgotten God. God bless them. May they use their money wisely. I just don’t really want to be like that. In fact, there is very little material wise that I want. I have a hard enough time thinking of things I want for Christmas every year.

I have also tried to be real in my apologetics. I love the life of the mind and reading, but I never want to be one who dwells in the ivory tower. That’s why you’ll also find me playing a game every now and then and be aware of what’s going on in my favorite TV shows and such. I want to enjoy many of the good things God gave us to enjoy.

So now having said all that, let’s look at Hardman’s article some.

Hardman starts with a great account about how he was able to do so much including getting a ministry established that now has an international impact. I find this to be incredible and honestly an account that makes me wonder what I was doing back in the day. I admire greatly his passion and his desire for change.

Now I cannot say that I was ever someone who was an atheist or agnostic but had my faith changed by reading The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Oh I’ve asked the doubt questions before and I think every Christian should, but I can’t say it would be something that kept me up at night all my life or anything like that.

Hardman does say he would at that time identify himself as an apologist and tell people that God had called Him to do this.

That is where we need to be careful. I understand how it is that God equips us, and I do believe God has given me the gifts and abilities to have the duty of being an apologist. But I’m careful to not say I have been called to do something like this. I think too often we place way too much of an emphasis on calling. That is part of our individualistic culture. Yes, calling did take place in the Bible, but that was to people like Elijah and Jeremiah and Paul.

You and I are not those people.

In fact, when we see ourselves getting to serve in this capacity, it should be a humbling thing. I often tell Allie that when I receive some compliment about how a piece I wrote blessed someone, it’s an honor to receive that and it’s humbling too. One example I shared in the Deeper Waters newsletter, upon the recommendation of my father-in-law, was to share an email I received from a gentleman who was thankful to read a review of a book on Ehrman I wrote and put on Amazon. I will post the letter here. (And I did get his permission to share it.)

“Mr. Peters, As a believer in Christ, the past 24 hours have been interesting and worrisome. I was reading an article in yesterday’s Huffington Post regarding Bill O’Reilly’s new book “Killing Jesus.” Some that left comments posted video’s of scholars who have done much more extensive work into Jesus than Mr. O’Reilly. One of the video’s was a debate that featured Dr. Bart Ehrman (who I had never heard of until yesterday) regarding textural criticisms with the NT. I found it fascinating and disturbing as being a Church attendee for over 40+ years, studying the Bible with the Bible Study Fellowship organization, hearing countless pastors, etc. NONE of what he was saying was ever spoken in Church or class. I went to Amazon to see what the reviews were for his book, before I purchased it, and I came across your enlightening one. I then found your website and do plan to look deeper into the Poached Egg and other links you shared. My question to you is, would you be able to recommend some readings for someone that had no idea this material existed? I need to know as much as I can absorb so the next time someone says to me “the Bible is just full of lies”, I will have some knowledgeable way to respond instead of the typical one that many Christians use – prove it. Thank you so very much and God bless! Phillip”

This review was a blessing to receive in many ways. Allie and I were at the card shop on a Saturday night for some gaming together when I got the email and I shared it with her. We joined some friends at a restaurant afterwards, but as I was driving home, I was angry. The letter had humbled me as well thinking how incredible it is to get to serve in this capacity, but I was angry at a church that had failed this man. There are too many like him who will never read such a review on Amazon and never be able to hold onto their faith.

When we’re reminded of what we do in the Kingdom, we should receive it as an honoring testimony, but we should also receive it as a humble reminder. None of us are essential to the Kingdom. God can do without any one of us. Yet He has chosen to allow us to serve and that ought to amaze us.

Part of Hardman’s concern also is with the concept of “apologist,” and I agree that there is a problem here. Too many apologists think they have to be masters of everything. They need to know how to defend the resurrection, then answer every argument against abortion, then know the ins and outs of each cult out there, then recognize all the problems in other world religions. They have to be masters of science who can answer any question on evolution. Naturally, they also have to have an encyclopedic record of every Bible contradiction out there.

Reality check people. You can’t do that.

If you try to do that, you will burn yourself out, and when you meet people who know an area you don’t really study and you claim you do, it will end badly.

When I say I am an apologist then, I am not able to give the whole story, any more than someone can do so by saying “I’m a doctor.” No doctor can be a specialist in every field. No biologist can be a specialist in every area in biology. There are always going to be limitations to your knowledge no matter what field you go into. In our culture, science is highly prized, but because someone says “I’m a scientist”, it does not mean that they’re a master in every natural science out there.

Hardman writes that he didn’t know God in what he was doing despite knowing all about Him. Now when it comes to something like this I want to again caution that we be careful. Honestly, I am often amazed when some people describe me as a great lover of God. It’s not something I readily see in myself. Interestingly, one of the things that first drew my wife to a nerd like me was that she saw I really loved Jesus, at least in her eyes! I loved Jesus and yet I could talk about games with her on the same level. I was a nerd who was actually taking this stuff seriously. How does that work?

Could it be part of the danger we have today is how we define love? Love is not to be measured by the emotional response you have towards something. You may or may not have that and that could be for a variety of reasons. What love is really defined in is seeking the good of the other for the sake of the other.

We would all be really great in our marriages if we had good feelings all the time about the other person constantly, but would that mean we were genuinely loving? Isn’t the loving person the one who serves not only when the feelings are there, but also when the feelings are absent? The loving person does the good they are to do because they are to do it.

I won’t deny there have been many times I’ve got up in the morning and I’ve been angry with my God. Why is it if He’s a God of love and grace and works all things for the good of those who love Him, that I am in the state that I am in? I am angry with God then, and I’m not justifying it either. What do I do? Serve anyway.

We cannot control our feelings. If we could, we would all make ourselves feel happy all the time. We can control our actions. What if you saw me being unloving to my wife and asked “Why did you do that?” and I said “I just didn’t feel loving at the time”? Would you say “Oh thank you very much. That clears it up!” I hope not! I hope you would say something like “Whether you feel loving or not, that’s no excuse to be a jerk. You’re supposed to do the right thing anyway.”

I also wonder about our talk so much about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is terminology I see nowhere in the New Testament. What it talks about the most in there is that we have peace with God. God’s wrath no longer abides on us. We are in right relationship through the Father by the Son and with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

We soon get in Hardman’s piece to a revealing section.

“I knew “why I believed what I believed” yet I, too, was in that 75%. How ironic! If my private life was exposed–my addiction to porn, my alcohol and pot consumption, my relationship with my girlfriend–I looked like your average college guy, not the model of an upstanding Christian apologist I tried to be in front of others.”

I am reminded of the passage in 1 Tim. 3 about how a recent convert should not hold a place in leadership. Too much success early on can lead to pride. What I see here is that it looks like Hardman was saying one thing in public and being different in private. It also looks like this included something men really struggle with, namely sexual sin.

Unfortunately, the church says very little about sexual sin.

It also brings to mind something about how we are in our society. Everyone has to put their best foot forward in the church. Think about what I said about my Bible reading at the start. You know who would be very unwelcome in our churches today?

The Psalmist would.

Seriously. Go through and look at the Psalms. Look at the way they complain to God. Look at the way they accuse God. Look at the reasons why they say God should help them. It’s not always “So your glory may be known.” It can be “So that I will not suffer.” We would look at the Psalmist today at church and say “Dude. You need to be more spiritual. You need to have the joy of Jesus in your life.”

Reality check again. This was found fit to be put in Scripture. Apparently, God wanted us to see this attitude. Why? Because He condemns it and wants us to avoid it?

No. Because He knows it is us.

Last night, I read part of Psalm 44 where the Psalmist wrote about how God had rejected the people of Israel and let their enemies defeat them. He had gone back on the covenant and yet the Psalmist said “We have not strayed from the path. We have honored your covenant.”

I went to bed thinking about that and thinking “Israel in the Hebrew Bible kept the covenant? Who does this Psalmist think He’s fooling?”

Yet it was not too long before the cold reality hit.

“I am the Psalmist.”

I do not mean I wrote the Psalm of course, but how many times do I say “God, why are you doing this in my life when I have been faithful to you? I have served you with due diligence and done the work required of me. Why have you done this to me?”

In those times, I’m saying the exact same thing the Psalmist is saying.

Who do I think I’m fooling?

And yet, that psalm is there for me to read. It is there to remind me someone has been where I have been before. Someone has struggled with what I have struggled before. I took great delight in what the Psalmist said then and realized I was too quick to condemn him. I was just as bad.

Now Hardman has some good points about doubt. Apologetics will not help with every doubt because not every doubt is a factual doubt. A lot of it is emotional doubt. This is where the work of Gary Habermas is so helpful. Habermas has catalogued the three different kinds of doubt and how to deal with them. (Free books on this are available at his web site.)

I know many a person who has struggled with doubt so much, and it’s not intellectual doubt. When I am asked if X is a deal-breaker for Christianity, I now just ask “What do you think I’m going to say?” The answer is the same every time. The person does need knowledge of course, but they also need to deal with unruly emotions, which is the work of a good counselor.

Hardman also says that sometimes we can seek to shut some people down in apologetics which he sees as very un-Christian.

Yet I wonder if that’s not also part of our modernism. We have an emphasis on our feelings and the individual and what the individual thinks of us. Yet Jesus did not hesitate to shut down his opponents. He referred to the Pharisees as blind guides and told his disciples to leave them. He publicly denounced them. Before we say, “Well, that’s Jesus,” let’s keep in mind the fact that this attitude went into the writings of Paul, John, and others in the early church. A passion for the truth led them to be forceful with the enemies of the truth who were coming to devour the flock.

Can some people do such out of pride and evil attitudes? Of course. Does that mean all do? No. Sometimes love means being firm and tough. I tell people that if all you have is a hammer, then yes, everything looks like a nail. If all you have is a hug though, everything looks like a kitten. It’s why I think there is a place for sarcasm and satire in defending the faith.

Did Hardman do this out of pride? If he says so, then he needs to repent of that—and perhaps his writing this article is part of his way of showing that he has. Does that mean everyone does apologetics out of pride? No. That would be just as wrong as saying that because a lot of people preach Christianity out of a love for Jesus, that means that everyone does. Many do not.

Now I will also say that I am certainly one who would describe himself as having a deep love for my field, but I also make sure that that field is secondary to the duties that only I can do and one in particular, loving my wife.

To my fellow men who are apologists and married, I tell them that if you go out and have a successful ministry and answer all the questions and write all the books, but you have failed to be a husband to your wife, then I count you a failure overall.

I realize that when I cannot do the work in the apologetics field for whatever reason, then there are others who can take up the slack for me. No one can take up the slack on being the husband of Allie Peters. No one can fill that in for me. If we ever have children, no one else can take up the slack of being the father to the little ones.

When my anniversary comes about or Allie’s birthday or some event like that, then apologetics is not as pressing a need in that day. Of course, if an emergency came up of some sort, Allie would understand that sometimes, you have to do things. If I receive a call from a friend who’s suicidal for instance on a day like that, Allie will not want me to say “Well it’s our anniversary. Can I call you tomorrow?”

Unless that happens, I love my wife and when I’m with her, I want her to be my focus. No one else can do that for me. I have promised her already that while I am an apologist, I am not married to what I do. She is my spouse and not my work. My work is extremely important, and she knows that and encourages and supports me in it, but it is her that I sleep next to every night.

And since I’ve talked about failure, let’s discuss it a little bit more. I also take what I do seriously because failure is one of my great fears. Allie can tell you that what I want most of all is to enter into eternity and hear God say “Well done good and faithful servant.” I want to know that God is pleased with the work that I have done. I want to have Him smile on me. Some may call that prideful, but what is the alternative? That I care nothing for pleasing Him?

Would I say I always serve God with pure motives? No. But what is the alternative? If I wait until my motives are pure, I will never truly serve God. I must be seeking to serve and be praying that in all of that, God will work on my heart and help me serve as purely as I can, knowing that all I do this side of eternity will always have some of that fallen nature.

As we get down to it in the end, that’s really the problem.

It’s not Christianity.

It’s not apologetics.

It’s not ministry.

It’s not other people.

The problem is us.

We are fallen.

We have met the enemy and it is us.

But as said earlier, we are also ones that God has graciously seen fit to use in this endeavor and we should seek to not lose sight of that. Every blessing we have in our lives comes from Him and we are to serve Him with all we have. We will all fall short. We will all do so imperfectly, but let us make sure that we are all walking together. That way when someone falls, others can pick them up and help them to walk straight again.

We can never give our Lord our best. But let’s give Him what we can.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Love Is Not Proud

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through lately 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we’re going to look at the topic of “Love is proud.”

Pride. That’s a big one isn’t it? Some of us will say we don’t struggle with it and those who say they don’t could be the ones most likely to. Any time we sin, ultimately at heart it is the sin of pride. It is trying to find a good for ourselves outside of God. We are saying that our idea of the good is better than God’s idea.

A few years ago a Garfield movie came out. It was a good movie that I happen to own on DVD and if you remember, the main ad for that movie was one that fit Garfield to a T with him saying “It’s all about me.” Of course, in the movie, he ultimately found out it wasn’t all about him as he risked all he had to save his friend Odie.

For a lot of people however, that was an all too real idea. Too many people who were wearing the T-shirts that said “It’s all about me” did seem to personify that. We have been referred to as the “Me generation.” People are constantly looking out for what’s in it for them. I won’t deny that I’m just as guilty.

Today, we have an idea that the word exists for our happiness. A friend of mine in ministry told once of how his wife answered the door one day to find some Jehovah’s Witnesses and they asked her “Do you think God wants you to be happy?” to which the wife said “No.” This left the Witnesses flummoxed immediately. That answer isn’t in the book!

There was a lot of truth to what she said. Now God does want us to be happy in the sense that He truly wants our good. He does not want us to be happy in the way that many modern Americans view happiness. He does not simply want us to have warm fuzzies or always feel good about ourselves. Nothing wrong with these in themselves, but there is something wrong with making that the goal.

Our idea of happiness however usually means that we’ll be happy when the universe bends to our desires. A lot of the things that really frustrate us are things that don’t go our way. Our lives do not go according to the script that we had written up. Perhaps we should heed the advice of that great philosopher Mick Jagger who said “You can’t always get what you want.” (Though keep in mind, he also said that sometimes you get what you need.)

Just look at a lot of things that make you angry. Are they really worth getting angry over? Does the universe have to bend to your desires? Was it supposed to work out that that person in front of you at the check-out line would not question the price of every item they got? Was it required of the world that you not get behind someone going slow on the road?

What if instead we sought the joy in the other for the other? Consider how many times this can happen in marriage? My wife and I can think about couples who we have heard complaining. The husband will say “Well why don’t I get more sex from my wife?” The wife will say “It would be nice if he would help me out around the house a little bit!” Both of these could have some valid ideas. Both likely make the same mistake. The husband says “Well if she doesn’t give me what I want, why should I be expected to help with the house?” and she says “Why should I be romantic for him if he’s not willing to do anything to help me out around here?”

Yes. Why should any of you do that?

Because you’re in a covenant of love to seek the best of the other even if the other isn’t seeking your best in your eyes.

For husbands, if they will work to help even just a little bit with the housework and taking care of kids and such for their wife, their wives will see this as greatly loving and really thinking of you and when that happens, the wife will be more prone to think of her husband and want him more.

For the wife, if you are having this kind of problem with your husband, take the advice that a marriage therapist in Jennifer Roback Morse’s book “Smart Sex” gives. Spend two weeks seducing your husband. Really seek to give him what he wants. Wives left the therapist thinking she had to be crazy, but when they gave their husbands what their husbands wanted, they were shocked at the men that suddenly showed up in their lives. Their husbands were helping with the housework and getting the kids to bed and being romantic as well!

Now this doesn’t mean that you seek to please each other so that you can get what you want, as tempting as that can be. I have to remember that if I bring home flowers for the Mrs. one day, she’s not obligated to please me the way I want to be pleased. What kind of gesture would it be to get angry thinking “I did this for you and you did not get give me what I want!” That instead would show a very shallow love. Instead, the giving of the flowers is its own reward. If it leads to something more, great. If not, I should make it a point to delight in the fact that I was able to do something good for my wife.

Doing good for the other will make you draw yourself out of your world, which is where we are in pride. We get so caught up in ourselves that it is hard to see the perspective of the other and realize that the other person really does have good reasons for acting how they do and it is not a giant conspiracy on their part to annoy you.

Annoy. That’s a good word isn’t it? Most of what goes against our pride is not stuff that is really wrong or harmful. It’s more something that is annoying. Hearing the kid cry while you’re trying to take a nap or watch your favorite TV show might be annoying, but is it really something to get angry over? Does the kid owe you that time, especially if they’re too young to understand?

And what happens? You make your judgment that is temporal the final and eternal judgment and you keep feeding that negative idea. You form one negative concept in your mind and it grows and grows. It’s not enough when you see the original premise that created that idea blown out of the water. The damage is still done. Why? You started with yourself as the ultimate judge instead of God.

While I have gone after presuppositionalism on this blog, let us keep in mind that it is certainly true that all truth is God’s truth. As my pre-marital counselor told me about these struggles, it comes down to “What is truth?” It’s apologetics. The answer is not how you feel at the moment, but what is true. You need to work through how you feel to an extent, but you can’t expect a certain feeling to show up. Would God take what you are thinking at this moment and say “Yes. That is true.” If he would not, then it is not true.

And with God, wouldn’t that be a good one to lose your world in? Why not spend more time focusing on His world instead of your own? Why not seek His love instead? If you are tempted to focus on the wrongs that are done against you, why not think instead of the wrongs you’ve done against Him? See His great love for you and seek to have that kind of love for others.

Reality won’t go your way. So what? You think you’re supposed to be writing the script. Besides, the world would not be as enjoyable with our scripts. It’s those little things that often interrupt the main act that can be the most entertaining. Remember the Romans 8 passage and that while you may not like what is going on, God is able to shape it for your good. Why not trust Him to do so?

We shall continue next time.