In my last article, I made a statement that is not fully true when taken on its own. I went back and added some clarification that I regret leaving out.
Here was the statement:
“Christian, you are not mentally ill. The world is.”
Here is what I added:
“Aren’t we all of the world though? We are all born sinful. We are all sick. The distinction is Jesus and His grace towards those who love Him. So, don’t forget compassion and humility, but recognize that following Jesus is the most sane thing a person can do. However, it is something given to us, not because we are better than the world, but because God is good.”
There is this balancing act we strive for as Christians. When the world accuses us in our faith, we want to stand firm in it. We don’t want to allow these accusations to weaken our faith, and seeing the truth of the matter is a great defense to us. So, recognizing that being a Christian is not insane, but rather, the world is insane, can be an effective perspective.
However, we have to remember that we are not any better. Yes, Jesus did say “you are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” We should have that focus. Yet, at the same time, remember where we came from. We came from the dust just like everyone else. We have tendencies towards sin just like everyone else. We are sick and need the physician just like everyone else.
When the world attacks us, it can be easy to become hardened. A heart that becomes hardened loses compassion, becomes prideful, and goes into a self-protective mode instead of a mode of self-sacrifice. This is a natural thing our minds do, and it is yet another aspect of our human nature that we need Jesus to help us get through.
It’s all about perspective, and Jesus give us the better perspective — and there’s always more perspective to gain.
For one, I do think viewing sin as illness is a good way to look at it. Take any of the big sins this world is arguing over right now (in the West at least). These sins are accepted, praised, and we are called evil or insane for calling these problems sin. This makes us want to resist and become hardened.
Instead, as hard as it can be, remember that sin is sickness. Also, keep in mind that there are reasons why these sins have become so rampant. Christians, for the most part, did not treat the sick as afflicted, but instead treated them as lower beings who chose to be bigger sinners than us.
Christians lost compassion and became proud. Now, there is push back. Christians also began to accept lower-levels of sin as acceptable. For example, we might not accept sexual confusion, but we long ago started accepting fornication (not all, but as a whole, Christians society does not value chastity as it once did).
So then, what’s the perspective? Sin is in fact sickness, and we are all sick. You can take any sin, even the most severe, and find that you have been some place on that sin spectrum. Consider the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe we do not murder, but we call people names. Maybe you would never have an abortion, but you might murder your children spiritually with verbal abuse or encouraging participation in worldly culture. Are we better? Not really.
Like mentioned in the last article, we are all sick. Even things we might not consider sinful like anxiety and depression plague many of the faith. Why are these sinful? They are the result of heart issues that point to lack of faith, lack of gratitude, and the like. They encourage selfishness. We can find compassion for people who suffer in these ways, because many of us do. If we can find compassion for the least of sins, we need to find compassion for the most severe also. How else will those afflicted find freedom?
In any case, the mindset of self-accountability is something we really need to cultivate as a Christian society. Sure, we are accused and we have sinfulness forced on us by society. We want to turn to Jesus and have the wisdom to overcome these things. Yet, it begins with looking at ourselves. That’s something I’ve written about a lot lately, but I think this idea was not apparent in the last article.
If we see ourselves clearly, know that any goodness we have came from God, and that we do not deserve the grace and mercy of Jesus that makes us free, we can retain compassion and guard our hearts from becoming hardened. Then, maybe we can be the examples of Jesus we should have been.
It seems to go two ways. On one hand, Christians either become proud or full of rage towards certain sins, or they start joining with them. We need to find the right balance. The balance comes from understanding what the gospel really means.
This comes from understanding the freedom promised from the gospel that begins with repentance. This begins with seeing ourselves honestly, recognizing sin, and hating it. We understand that we need the mercy of Jesus to forgive us, and we have faith that Jesus will not leave us sick. He will heal us also. Once we experience this goodness, we can then reach out to others in a productive way that neither enables the sin nor comes off as holier-than-thou.
The foundation of our problems as a Christian society is not the world attacking us. It is the diluting of the gospel message and our failure to do some of the most basic things Jesus teaches us to do. However, it’s not to late to return to these things.