Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap? The comparison trap is where you spend your time looking at the lives of others and envying what they have, instead of being thankful for what you have. That is a place that is horribly sad. You cannot be happy with your life because someone else has ___________, and I want that. There isn’t much room for gratitude or contentment with that.
While that is what most of us think of when it comes to comparison, I think a much more devastating version is when we look at the lives of others who are less morally sound than us. We compare ourselves to others, and we think, “Hey, I must be super spiritual. I mean, look at them.”
We have all been there. I have been there many times. I have been in a place where I feel morally superior, and have been happy about it. I have felt good about myself because I choose to attend church on Sundays, and others don’t. I don’t go out and get hammered and others do. I’ve never done drugs, and I barely cuss. I must be doing great in God’s eyes, right?
The Bible describes the moment of our salvation as being made alive. In order to make something alive, it has to be dead. This is how the Bible compares those who are followers of Christ and those who are not. It doesn’t say followers of Christ are morally superior or just good people, and those who are not are bad people. The Bible says the difference is being dead and alive. This is what Ephesians 2:4-5 says:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
This is great news. However, for some of us, most of us really, this is extremely convicting. Many of us have spent the extent of our Christian experience living a morally better life than others, and that is it. We haven’t lived in the freedom of being made alive, because that freedom includes freedom from comparison. Living in a way that people who are dead want to be made alive. A life that those who do not have Christ would want. A life worthy of the grace and love of the Gospel.
Francis Chan says it this way in His book You and Me Forever:
“Too many Christians are content with appearing to be a bit more moral than the people around them. But the difference between a true Christian and a non-Christian is not about subtle moral distinctions; it’s the difference between being alive and being dead!”
I was floored by this because of the truth of this statement. That saddest part of this comparison to me is that the differences are subtle. The main comparison Christ followers fall into is church attendance. Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, has said this many times, and it rings true:
“When a person says, ‘I’m going to go to church and try to be a good person,’ that’s not a transformed life; that’s church attendance. And that’s a lame hobby.”
His point is so true. If following Jesus centers only about your church attendance, then you’re missing the point. A lot of us don’t like that Chandler calls it a lame hobby, but think about it… it totally is. Your moral superiority hinges on the fact that every week (sometimes more than once a week), you go sit and listen to some music, then you listen to a guy talk for 40 minutes about the Bible, then you go home. All in the name of feeling better about yourself and checking church off a to-do list. To me, that is a lame hobby.
What is worse is the boat I have found myself in so many times. I am in ministry, so I naturally think I have the Christian experience down. I mean, I am dedicating my life to serve the church. Because of this fact, I have gone around and thought to myself that I am so holy because of this. Some Christ followers just go to church, but I am serving the church. I must be better than not only people who are not Jesus followers, but even Christians who just go to church… I have fallen into this trap more than I would care to admit. And I have never been less effective for the gospel than in these times.
Christ came to give us an abundant life. A life that is different from those around us. We have the Holy Spirit living within us; the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is in you. This should change some things. If this is where you find yourself today, the spirit who raised Jesus can revive your life. He can help you live a life that is alive, not just morally superior (check out THIS to see what that looks like). You just have to desire that and ask. It’s that simple.
Moral superiority isn’t what following Jesus is about. A relationship with Him should transform you. It doesn’t matter who you are: rich or poor, athletic or not so athletic, young or old, etc. Whoever you are, when you begin a relationship with Jesus, you start over. You learn how to walk and talk differently. You learn how to leverage everything you do (work, school, relationships, etc.) for the Gospel. You are made alive. Don’t rob yourself of that.
We cannot continue to compare ourselves to others in the name of feeling better about ourselves. When we, as Jesus follower, live radical lives for the Gospel, it shows others that it is a life worth living. We have been made alive by the grace of God. Don’t spend your life living on life support spiritually. Live a life that isn’t about moral distinctions. Live a life that others are attracted to. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what Jesus died to offer you.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.