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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Art of Comparison

1 John 2:15-17

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lusts of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

These verses house within them one of the resounding themes of the last year of my life. "Alyssa, do not love the world. Hold your things, your people, your experiences, your money, your hobbies...loosely."

But last week something jumped off the page. "The boasting of what he....does - comes not from the Father but from the world." As Christians, I think we read this verse and if we decide to pause and think about it for a moment we camp on "cravings of sinful man" and the "lust of his eyes". But rarely do we stop to think about how often we boast in what we do.

At the most basic level, our lives as Christians are given over to an astounding focus on what we do. Namely through the art of comparison. We compare our jobs, our budgets, our grocery spending, our kids, our kids behavior, our prayer lives, our 'influence level', our recognition from others, our fruitfulness, our appearance, our commitment level, our sacrifices, our generosity, our frugality, our knowledge of the bible, our time spent in the bible, our physical abilities, our 'wisdom', our bible translation, our service type and amount, and on it goes.

Through this we take the gospel of freedom, shroud it in the concerns of the world, and live boasting about what we do (or not do). We claim to "not love the world" but we take sinful mans most basic element - the glorification of self,- and 'spiritualize' it (if that can happen).

I cannot but help but think this is what Paul was addressing in 1 Cor. 11:19 when he said, "No doubt there are differences (divisions) among you to show which of you have God's approval." We spend all this time jockeying for position, trying to show others that we somehow have God's approval. In my own life I need desperately to reject comparison. And reject its next of kin - judgement.

Instead of judging myself and others by what they do, I need only to compare myself to the standards of Jesus. Sometimes I think we shy away from this, cause why? Cause in that comparison contest we come out looking pretty crappy. Chris said something this morning (he has no idea I am quoting Him) that struck me as in line with this. He said, "The longer I follow the Lord, the more I see how great the gap is between God and me...and how small the gap is between me and any other man. And the more I realize the truth of this, the more my love and joy in Jesus is bolstered."