The ten-year challenge is going around again — as it has the last several years. This is where people post a picture of themselves from ten years ago and one from this year to show what a decade can do.
I saw on Twitter recently that one person decided to do the challenge with worship song lyrics he liked in 2009 contrasted against lyrics he finds helpful today, in 2019. Albeit jokingly, the way the post was structured seemed to imply that in the last ten years he had moved on to better, or more accurately holy, things. The tweet carried with it an implication of condescension to those still in the brand of Christianity God used to save him a decade earlier. After chewing on that for a bit, I stopped looking outward and began looking inward, and I found the same impulse that turned me off about that tweet in my own heart — and I’d be willing to bet if you look a little bit, you’ll find it in your heart too.
Why is it that we tend to look at other Christians that hold views we’ve “moved on from” with a bit of a patronizing attitude of superiority? Outside of the sin of pride, generally, I don’t exactly know why this impulse is in us, but one thing I do know is it shouldn’t be.
In writing to Timothy late in his life, Paul finds joy in remembering Timothy’s “sincere faith” that was passed down from his grandmother Lois to his mom Eunice and now resides in him (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15). Paul, more than any of us, had his theology worked out. He had attained higher degrees of holiness and more fully understood the intricacies of the Christian faith than we will. On top of that, Timothy had spent a considerable amount of time with Paul learning from him directly. Yet, Paul doesn’t tell Timothy that he’s proud of how far he’s come or how much he’s learned. Instead, Paul finds joy in the faith of Timothy’s youth and reminds Timothy of it along with how he received it.
Or we can consider another example of Paul in Romans 14. Here, Paul knows he’s correct to believe that no food is unclean in itself (v. 14), and Christians can eat whatever is placed before them. However, there are still those brothers in Christ persuaded that certain foods are off-limits, and he won’t let the food he eats put a stumbling block before those “for whom Christ died” (v. 15). He won’t, “for the sake of food, destroy the work of God” (v. 20), but instead, he encourages us all to join him in pursuing “what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding” (v. 19).
How often have I for the sake of my own pleasure destroyed the work of God by causing another to stumble? How often have I viewed the weaker brother as someone to be pitied rather than one to be loved and served? After all, it’s when we were weak that Christ died for us (Romans 5:6). It’s when we were farthest from the truth that Christ served us by saving us.
This type of progress in the faith may not get all the laughs, likes, and retweets but it’s the progress toward which I aspire. This is a kind of holiness that seeks to encourage and equip those around us with our words and actions, and it’s the kind of holiness I hope, by God’s grace, I can grow into more completely.
Photo Credit: @eckfarms