Jesus v. Me
I don’t know how healthy it is for my self-esteem to compare myself to others. I can hit free throws much of the time but it would not be very smart to compare my basketball skills to LeBron James’. I usually sing the right notes in a song, but I am not singer Josh Groban is. I should be happy with who I am. Everyone should have a healthy amount of self-love. The second great commandment is ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Luke 10:27). If all I have is self-loathing, my neighbor is in trouble. I don’t need to compare myself to others.
Still, sometimes a benchmark helps me see how I am doing (whatever it is that I may be doing). Overall, what kind of human being am I? As I pondered this I thought, why not aim high? So, I am setting myself alongside Jesus as I read Ephesians 1 & 2. Jesus need not be nervous. I am a humble winner. I know Moses is supposedly the most humble man ever, but that was written before I was born.
So, it’s Rob v. Jesus. Good luck, son of Mary.
Let’s see as I scan over Ephesians I come to chapter 2, verse 1. “You were dead through trespasses and sins.” Oh, that doesn’t sound so good. I know this doesn’t stick to Jesus because, well, he has never sinned. I have read enough that I can verify that. I on the other hand have – a lot. This is not the place for specific confessions, but anyone interested in my checkered record can interview the saint otherwise known as my wife. The whole death through sins bit sticks to me like honey on a linoleum floor; hate stepping in that in my bare feet. Yeah, I am dead in sin.
What about him? OK, Jesus hasn’t sinned. Let’s not throw that party yet. Maybe Ephesians can knock Mr. Sinless down a peg. Let’s see … ah … here it is; chapter 1, verse 20. God raised him from the dead. I see. Well, I can’t sugar coat it. The check goes in Jesus’ column. That’s one for him. But I am still in this game.
Ephesian, help me out.
Or not. Chapter 2, verse 2: it says I (A) followed the course of the world, (B) follow the rule of the power of the air, and (C) it says he is the spirit that is at work among those who are disobedient. Does it take a Bible scholar to see that Ephesians 2:2 is referring to Satan? And I follow him? I did not mean to. I didn’t know. No, that’s a load of something not fit to say or type. When I follow the world down a path that leads away from God, I know it. I acknowledged as much when I said I have sinned. That’s not humility. That is honesty. But now here Ephesians is telling me exactly where I stand – in the footsteps of the devil. Maybe we should just cut this whole comparison thing, just shut it down. No?
Ohhhkayyyy – how does Jesus fare? Ephesians 1:22 says God has put all things under his feet and made him the head over all things. He is not following the course of this world. He’s determining it. He is the head, the boss, the big fella, the top muckidy muck.
For those scoring at home, it is Jesus 2, Rob 0.
I won’t lie. My confidence is not soaring right now. What’s that? You want more. Alright, you sadist. Let’s go to Ephesians 2:3. It says all of us were by nature, children of wrath. All of us follow the desires of the flesh (which we know is opposite of the fruit of the Spirit – see Galatians 5). So, I hear you, smacking on Rob for his fleshly nature, his tumble into the fire of God’s wrath. Go ahead, pile on me. It doesn’t say Rob has messed this up. Ephesians 2:3 says all of us. That’s you too, baby. You want to dump on me, well; you’re in the pit with me, my friend.
Huh? You’re saying I started all this as a comparison between me and Jesus not me and you? Oh come on! What fool would, for a second, try to compare himself to Jesus. Comparisons are not really a good idea. That’d be as daft as trying to play a game of one-on-one against LeBron James. I … I… oh. Oh, yeah. I started this. Didn’t I?
I am, consumed by the flesh as I am, in the path of God’s wrath. We already know Jesus is elevated as the King and Lord of all. No comparisons remain. Should feel like pond scum right now. But I don’t know. When I consider who I am – death-bound sinner that I am – why don’t I crumble in a pile of self-hate? Why do I feel so good?
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ[a]—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
You see, it is not Jesus v. me. It is Jesus for me, creating me as His own, alive in Him, living for the purposes He sets before me. The story is not me at all. It is Christ. I am grateful for all He gives.
What does Jesus have for you?