I have a lot of people come up to me and say, “I love what you said, but I’m not like that.”
My friend West told me about a sermon he preached where he said something along these lines: “We all think we do our own thing, but look how many of us are wearing black North Face jackets. We didn’t all independently decide this would be a great jacket, we wear it because we saw other people wearing it.” He said that after the sermon, people came up to him wearing black North Face jackets, explaining, “This was a gift, I didn’t pick it out myself!” I call this person super human guy.
I understand super human guy because I am super human guy. This is how I have lived most of my Christian life. I used to even think to myself, “How can I figure out the exact right rhythm so that I read my Bible, share Jesus with my neighbor, love everyone with perfection, be the perfect father, be extraordinarily patient and extraordinarily kind, be extraordinarily bold, extraordinarily brave? I will never be a hypocrite. I will never be a Pharisee. I will never be part of the problem. No lust. No greed. No flaw guy.” In other words, I wanted to be super human guy, making it clear to everyone why I’m not the problem.
I really have a problem admitting my limitations. And I’m not the only one. Yeah, we know all have sinned and fall short. All Christians acknowledge that. I’m talking about something different though: learning to be comfortable with our limitations. Not just our physical limitations in time and space, but our limitations in understanding, comprehending, and emoting. Our inability to actually discern and know and handle truth in objective ways, without going on the defensive. Can I live in such a way that it’s not offensive to know I am severely limited, flawed, and often wrong?
Adam and Eve thought they could be limitless even before Bradley Cooper’s magic little pill. They thought that if they had the knowledge of Good and Evil they could use it, control it, harness it; they thought they could discern and not be deceived, because after all, doesn’t knowledge help us avoid deception?
Super human guy is the biggest of all jackasses, because super human guy hasn’t ignored part of the Bible, he has ignored ALL of it. Humans are limited, unable to be God. Absolutely reliant. Remember the analogy that Paul used in 1 Corinthians 12? That we are all pieces of a Body? Which may in fact mean that no matter what you say, no matter how solid the New Year’s Resolution strategy, you are limited guy (or gal). There is no superman here.“If you claim you’re not a jackass, you’re claiming to be God: unlimited in your ability to love, to discern accurately. No manipulation, tantrums, prejudice, greed. But that person is God. And you’re not him.”
We like to think, “Sure, I’m less than perfect. But I’m not the problem.” But “less than perfect” is just a euphemism. Our world isn’t messed up because we’re “less than perfect.” It’s the REALLY bad stuff that has ruined our world. Like wanting sex with someone else’s spouse, refusing to forgive even when someone is begging for it. Hording things while other humans starve. Bullying the weak. That’s what ruins the world. The pain in this world exists because of big time jackasses. So it isn’t just that I “missed the mark” (a euphemism for sin), as though I’m not really bad and couldn’t be the real problem. It’s more like Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident, where he missed the target (a duck) and instead hit his hunting buddy in the face. His aim may not have been that far off, but it not a small problem, it’s a big problem.
And here’s the thing: I’m the big problem. So are you!
If you claim that you are not a jackass, you are claiming to be God: Unlimited in your ability to love. Unlimited in your ability to discern accurately at all times. Unlimited in your emotional response to horrible situations. No emotional manipulation, no childish fits, no temper tantrums, no prejudice, no faulty assumptions. No lust. No greed. No mistake guy. Superman guy. But that guy is God. And you’re not him.
Limitation is human. Embrace it. It’s even a huge part of the solution. What if limitation wasn’t a problem to be overcome, but actually part of the solution? Without limitation we are all our own gods and an absolute bloody mess. What if we are limited ON PURPOSE? What if our limitations aren’t supposed to all be overcome, but stand as reminders of our NEED? Constantly pointing us to our need for God, and our need for OTHERS.
The comments are open, so feel free to tell me why you didn’t pick your black North Face jacket because everyone else likes them. Tell me why you’re not the super human jackass guy…