A few months ago, my wife and I went over to our friend’s house to grill up some food, and watch a movie. It was pretty cool, because these are friends of ours that we don’t have the opportunity to hang out with that often socially. Life is just so crowded sometimes it seems.
Anyway, my buddy Mike and I were standing around the grill waiting for meat to cook, and we just started talking about life and all the stuff guys talk about while being manly grill masters. Sports, beer, and marrige generally come to mind as topics that help to fill the minutes in between seasoning the beef, and flipping the skewers of veggies. It’s funny, as we hung out there and talked, all of these topics seemed to turn into something deeper than all of that. I guess we all look for meaning in life. Something greater than all of this stuff that happens day to day. Something that makes this world of beer, sports and women make a little bit more sense. OK, beer and sports….women might be a lost cause…no amount of analyzing will make sense of the other sex. The point is that we are all know somehow, that there has to be something else in the world to make it make sense. We started talking about God, and the works he had done in each of us. We also talked about how He has touched each person so differently.
You know how there are those crazy ‘born-again’ Christians. One day they are out partying with their friends, acting all belligerent, and the next they are carrying their bible to the beach, only drinking water, and quoting bible verses every other sentence. The odd thing to me is how happy these people are, or seem to be. I mean, they had an overnight life changing experience of sorts, and just embraced that experience in a way that changed the very person they were the day before. Amazing…but genuine?
I remember when I was in Junior High and there was this kid that showed up one day in full skater garb with a new skateboard under his arm, and told everyone that he was now a ‘skater’. We all sorta laughed at him, because to us it was more of a Halloween costume. His mom went out and spent $500 to buy him a costume. “Can you ollie?,” we asked him (because that was the trait of a true skater). When he said “no” we discounted this kid as a ‘poser’ and called it a day. Poor kid. What day did I become a ‘skater’? When I learned to ollie? When I bought my first board with money I had saved all summer long? To tell you the truth, I don’t really know. Like most of the things in my life, it just happened a little at a time, until one day, I was just a ‘skater’. Little moments through time. One decision after another, initially defining my person.
Back to my conversation with Mike….”When did you become a Christian?” he asked. No one experience really comes to mind. I didn’t go out wearing a Motley Crew t-shirt one day and come home wearing a ‘Jesus Saves’ t-shirt. My life has transformed a little bit at a time. God speaking to me, working with me, showing me his plan- a little bit at a time. I look back on the road it took to get here and I see God trying to speak to me every step. Sometimes I would listen and sometimes I would not. Regardless, however, his presence was something I always felt, listening or not. It has been a life of decisions, and hundreds of divine moments that have made me who I am as a believer.
This all said….I feel like a fraud so often. My spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. There are those that are so much further along than I am. Do I make God proud by wearing his title “Christian”. Sometimes I don’t think so. I feel like the kid I knew in Junior High, wearing a bunch of new clothes, and I can’t even ollie.
Paul talks about this struggle in Romans. I tell you what, I have great peace in the fact that Paul struggled with this syndrome as well, because I think he had to be one of the most Christ like people in the New Testament. He also felt like a poser…
Romans 7:14-24 (NLT)
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
We are all ‘posers’ in some way. We all wear the clothes, and fall short of expectations to claim the title. Sometimes I think it would have been a little easier if I would have had a radical conversion experience. My old life gone…just like that. Instead, God deals with me a little bit at a time. Anyway, I highly doubt that ‘radical’ born-again believers don’t struggle with this on some level too. It is the reality of being saved and living in this world. We are all on a journey though, and Christ will work in us all if we let him.
This is one truth I do know. I am a Christian. No I didn’t have some life altering experience, or ‘come to Jesus’ moment in my life. I just feel as if my eyes have been slowly opening over time to see the beauty that exists in this messed up world. I am drawn to it. One small experience at a time has led me to believe that Christ exists, and that I can make a positive difference in the world. I’m not perfect. I drink beer. I have smoked pot. I watch ‘R’ rated movies at times, and don’t always say nice things about people. But you know what, I am a Christian. It is Christ working in me to make me a better person. I just hope I can make Him proud each day as I wear his name. I don’t ever want to be a ‘poser’ in His eyes, and I don’t ever want to pass judgement on anyone else running this race along side me either. We are all in this together. Just good friends grilling up some food and sharing stories of God’s work in each of us.