Pride (something deeper than sexuality)

            Over the last forty-eight hours I have seen more pride than I can manage. I am not speaking of the LGBT community or the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Chances are, most of those reading this know exactly where I stand on the moral issue of sexuality. No, the pride I refer to is a pride that holds seemingly all people in a western context captive. Many Christians, my brothers and sisters, have been so hateful and condemning over the course of the last two-days. Others have condemned them either for judging or for having a certain moral conviction that does not agree with what is now nationally accepted. Here is what I have noticed most prominently in the discussions I have seen and statements I have read: human pride is alive and well and it is just as divisive as it has always been. Now, I am a Christian. That simply means that my authority is God as He is revealed in the Bible. What I am going to address here is the issue of pride. Nothing more. Nothing less. No matter what our opinion on current issues, my hope is that all my friends and readers hear this equally.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” But the disciples were astonished at His words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

So they were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?”

Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”

Peter began to tell Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.”

“I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and eternal life in the age to come. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”[1]

Before giving this insight, there was a rich man who came to Jesus, actually kneeling before Him who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered him, saying that he must keep the commandments and that he must go and sell everything he had and then follow Jesus. The rich man went away sad and grieving because he had much. Jesus used this occurrence as a teaching opportunity between Himself and His disciples.

Riches a sin

The very first thing I have to point out here is that earthly riches are not inherently sinful. God blessed Job with earthly riches. He blessed Solomon with great earthly wealth. He gave eternal life to the Ethiopian Cup-Bearer despite his well-to-do position. God is not against earthly wealth. What strikes me about this rich young man is that he claimed to keep all of the commandments. He claimed innocence before God specifically concerning adultery and theft. Then, was unwilling to give up his riches for God, committing adultery against God by finding his identity in material wealth rather than in God and stealing what actually belonged to God so that he could keep it for himself. The issue Jesus addresses here is not money. It is pride.

Riches and heaven

If riches are not the sin, why is it so difficult for people who are rich to enter the kingdom of God? It is not because of those riches! In fact, just a few chapters before this in Mark’s Gospel Christ actually makes the statement, “I assure you: People will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they may blaspheme. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”[2]

We can talk about the unforgivable sin later. It suffices here to say that because of Christ’s mission on this earth, all the sins and blasphemes of men will be forgiven. We can take comfort in the fact that if we are wrong in thought, action or speech, we will be forgiven. Since earthly wealth is not even a sin it is difficult to think that it will keep us out of God’s kingdom (especially since not even sin can do that because of Christ’s work). What I find to be the downfall of the rich man is not his riches. It is his pride. Similarly, it is pride, not our sins (be it homosexuality, addiction to alcohol or porn, or simple selfishness in our daily lives) that keep us from God. What keeps us from God is our own pride and I have seen it prevalently here recently.

The good news

The disciples asked one another about who could enter God’s kingdom since it was so difficult. Jesus answered, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”

The truth of the matter is even when I am prideful God has provided a way for me to know Him through Christ. All things are possible with God. What is required of me is that I actually believe or trust God, which means less pride and more humility. I can’t trust in Christ if I only trust in myself or if all my trust is in an opinion, a granted right, an earthly government or even a lifestyle. The good news is that God is good to sinners. He even promises that we will receive much more in His kingdom than we give up here on this earth (this includes material wealth, emotional sacrifices and sometimes even ways of thinking). He did not condemn the rich man. The rich man chose to walk away.

Pride of the Christian

So, to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Why are we so prideful in this moment? I am convinced that it is absolutely wrong for us to “block” people on social media because of their views. How can we practice Christ’s love if we keep our distance? How can we as Christians, people who believe that God has all authority, have the audacity to condemn people for sin? Is God not the only one who has the authority to condemn? Yet He chose to forgive all sin.

To those who want to make the claim that God will condemn this nation because of the Supreme Court’s recent decision: what the above passage means is that God will save those He saves and condemn those He condemns. We simply do not have the authority to declare what God will or will not do. What I do know, because Christ Himself said it, is that our pride will keep us from trusting God. The claim that God will condemn this nation because of the sexuality of some is a claim made from pride, not from humility. We must remember that our trust is not in an opinion, a granted right, an earthly government or a lifestyle. Our trust is in Christ, who Himself loves sinners.

It then becomes our responsibility to act in love, not in condemnation, because all things are possible with God.

Dear non-Christian

I hope you know that God desires for you to have eternal life. Please take all of the hateful, unintelligent, prideful comments made by some and ignore them. This is what God actually says about sinners (and we are all sinners): Let go of your pride. Trust in Jesus. No matter what the sin is, God has always loved those who have rebelled against Him (just read Gen. 3). His desire is to have a very real relationship with them and to give them eternal life. Please don’t let prideful people who claim to be Christians keep you from pursuing a relationship with God. If I can help at all in that relationship, please let me know.

[1] Mark 10:23-31 (HCSB)

[2] Mark 3:28-29

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