taking the words of Jesus seriously

My translation of the Bible is better than your translation.
Hymns are better than choruses.
The Contemporary service is better than the Traditional one.
My version of baptism is better than yours.
My church is larger than yours.
My denomination is better than yours.
My theology is better than theirs.
I attend more church, tithe more, volunteer more, read more scripture, pray longer, and worship more than you.
I gossip less, smoke less, drink less, swear less, party less, and sin less than you.
I’m married and you’re divorced.
We practiced abstinence while they had premarital sex.
I have more Christian friends than them.
My understanding of scripture is better than yours.
I’m fluent in Greek and Hebrew and you aren’t.
I attended Seminary and they didn’t.
I believe in young-earth creationism and they believe in evolution.
I’m a Democrat and they’re a Republican.
I’m a vegan and they love to hunt, fish, and eat meat.
We homeschool and they put their kids in public schools.
We eat organic and they always eat fast food.
We spank our children and they don’t.
We are blessed with money and they aren’t.
I’m an official elder on the church board and he’s just a custodian.
I’ve believed in Jesus longer than she has.
She had an abortion and I didn’t.
We were missionaries and they weren’t.

It’s absurdly natural for humans to want to compare, but there are few things more dangerous during the Christian journey than spiritually comparing yourself to others. We constantly evaluate ourselves against the standards of others without wholeheartedly putting our trust in God.

Also by Stephen: The Disturbing Trend of Christian Self-Deprecation

The temptation is to judge others and self-righteously pat ourselves on the back for being “good Christians.” Or we can become hopelessly depressed. Guilt, shame, pride, and legalism can quickly creep into our spiritual lives when we start comparing, and we often start constructing false ideals that are impossible to achieve. We need to recognize that everyone—including ourselves—is God’s creation, holy and sacred, made in His image.

Christ continually warns against judging and comparing ourselves to others, but unfortunately, much of Christian culture has failed to grasp this. Infighting, theological bickering, and spiteful attacks divide Christian communities and continually ruin relationships—just go to a Christian website and read through the comment sections. Hate is alive and well.

The world watches as churches split, pastors indict, and Christians accuse each other of being heretics, false prophets, and liars. We positively reinforce the communities we align ourselves with while simultaneously tear down those who disagree with us. Christians have a tendency to self-destruct because we love attacking ourselves. Instead of the fruits of the Spirit, we can easily exhibit the fruits of our secular society: revenge, bigotry, manipulation, disdain, disgust, power, control, profit, and alienation.

It’s easy to lose sight of Christ’s message, one that was simply about service, sacrifice, and love. Let’s not let our hidden agendas—ones that are often based on comparative measures—separate us from the love of God.


Stephen Mattson has written for Relevant, Sojourners, and The Burnside Writer’s Collective. He graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN. Follow him on Twitter @mikta.

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