I have often struggled with the differences between personal holiness and external appearances of holiness. I guess you could call it "self righteousness". You see, there's the person I am, and the person I want to be. It's an age-old struggle, but for me it began at a young age.
I grew up with a group of people in a particular denomination where the APPEARANCE of doing right was seemingly more important than personal holiness. It was as if the "public image" of the person was more important than God's opinion of the person. Sure, I heard Jesus died for my sins, and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. But I had to work to earn his merit, favor, and grace. And if I had to work for it, so did others.
It was during those formative years as a young Christian that I learned to very easily point my finger at other people and look down my nose at them for their sins. Theirs were ugly, but mine were acceptable; They needed to repent, but I was worthy of forgiveness. After all, I was a nice guy and "did my best." I suppose we all "did our best", but in God's economy our best is never good enough. If it were up to us to perform, we'd fail every time. Thankfully, in God's economy He invites us to receive forgiveness by His grace alone.
This crowd of finger-pointing believers was quick to put on a smile or the appearance that everything was OK in their part of the world. We'd "amen" in church, but in houses behind unlocked doors we were different people. We were concerned about our appearance and reputation, rather than our holiness. Sadly, those formative years had a profound and lasting influence on my life as a believer.
When I moved away from home and became entrenched in a new career, I was introduced to another world that contained girls and alcohol. And I indulged. During that time, the pointy fingers were suddenly pointed at me. And it burned. I hated it! I turned my back on God for about three years, and I swore to myself, "When I return to the Lord, I will NEVER be 'that guy' again. I will NEVER point my finger at others, because I've been where they are. I am no different from them."
And so it was. I was a faith-product of the 9-11 attacks. I was one of the millions who fell to my knees in repentance. I re-committed to Christ. I was more emboldened than ever to live for Him, and to share with others the true "non-finger-pointing" gospel of Jesus Christ. But in so doing, not only was I NOT pointing my finger at others, I had grown to not really examine my own life. I hoped the gospel would change others, but accepted compromise in my heart. My "socially acceptable" sins were creeping their way back into my life. And like a colony of ants that bore out the center of a strong, large tree, taking it to the ground, I sensed that very thing occurring in my own life.
I have read a TON of books ABOUT the Bible, prayer, personal holiness, and Christian living, etc. But I failed to be IN the Bible itself. I have failed to model the behaviors I believe are most important as a Christian husband, father, and role model. And the tree is finally crashing down. Maybe that's a good thing, because it allows me to be at my lowest, my weakest so God can be at His strongest.
Social media is not to blame. I am. I have commented on peoples' "status" or pictures that were what I thought to be funny at the time. As it turns out, they were offensive and off base for what one would expect from a Christian man. They were apparently hurtful and derogatory, but I didn't recognize it. I guess it goes to show you just how far away from the "center line" I had gone.
So, freeing myself from FB will be a liberation to me, I believe. It has become a time-waster and a distraction to me. And if it entices me to lust or cause offense unawares, then I need to do something about it. I cannot change FB, but I can change me. I pray that God would once again grant me His favor and grace and forgiveness and mercy for all of my self-righteous behaviors. I hope He will take this fallen tree and shape it into a piece of furniture that is most helpful and useful to others, and most glorifying to Him. I pray that He would start me on the road to personal holiness and away from external appearances of righteousness.
Thank you all, my friends. I love you. Please pray for me in this journey I am on.