This can be a good thing or a bad thing but regardless, it is definitely a common thing- comparing ourselves with others. I think we are more likely to admit that we compare our life (job, family, home, appearance, vacations, health, etc) but have you ever compared your faith?
About 25 years ago, I remember listening to Beth Moore teach and what I saw and heard changed me for good. I compared my faith to hers, realizing for the first time in my life that there was something MORE to faith as a Christian.
What she had, I did not. Even though I had been a believer for several years by that point (mid-twenties), the difference in her experience with Jesus was much different than mine. This begged some questions-
What was different?
Why was her faith thrilling and thriving compared to mine?
How could she be that close with the Lord?
More importantly, how could I?
After I noticed what more I could have in my relationship with the Lord, the next question was logical. If I wanted it for myself, what was I willing to do about it? Was I willing to do anything differently?
This may seem like an innocent question but it is actually a very important one because it gets to a root issue that has the capacity to derail our faith, not to mention our relationships with other people. To be willing to do anything differently automatically means that we recognize that we are doing something wrong.
The choice is obvious- either we are doing as God intended with satisfactory results or we are missing something that if corrected could make our faith so much better. Therefore, if we are missing out on what we see as a wonderful, awe-inspiring relationship with Christ that someone else has, then obviously we stand to be corrected.
When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58 NIV
Having read this scene recently, something jumped out to me as never before. Who would hear someone draw their attention (Look!) to heaven opening, revealing the glory of God, with Jesus standing next to His Father and then REFUSE TO LOOK?!
These aren’t pagans rushing to stone Stephen but the high priest and other Jewish people! Uber religious people could have cared less about witnessing the awe of God’s glory. Rather, they cared more for silencing someone who did!
Why on earth would that take place? Wasn’t more of God worth standing corrected by Stephen’s rebuke ( Acts 7:1-53 ) of them much less his example of what is possible in their faith experience?
By their refusal to stand corrected, they missed the glory of God.
Let that sink in for a bit.By their refusal to stand corrected, they missed the glory of God! Who wants that? Certainly not me!! Click To Tweet
My thoughts automatically turn inwardly. What am I missing due to my refusal to admit and accept correction? I can’t help but think of our own natural tendency as humans to rebel, but add in the current cultural climate, where we tend to be know-it-alls and you have a recipe for disaster!
Not only do we think our personal viewpoint is supreme, neither can we be wrong, or at least admit it. From much of our society to our own tendencies, we will not stand corrected because we cannot admit we are wrong.
Boy, what a number that does on our relationship with God! No wonder our faith can be less than what it could be. Think of what could be lost if we refuse correction?
We see in the above passage that Saul was there giving approval of Stephen’s death. It goes on to say more about him in Acts 9:1-6, 18-22.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do……”
He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
As I read this, I couldn’t help but think, “What if Saul had refused to be corrected? How would history, our Bible, be different if he never changed in order to become ‘Paul’?” Could there be a “Paul” without admitting to being totally wrong?
He went from hunting down believers in order to destroy the faith to become a powerful advocate of Christ who would ultimately lay down his life for Him. What if all of that HADN’T happened?!
If that was his potential at stake, what is ours?!
What if “Saul” had not been willing to admit being wrong? How could he have become “Paul” otherwise? How would the world, our Bible, be different without the life and witness of Paul?
I don’t know about you, but the opportunity to not only view God’s glory but live a life to His glory is too good to pass up. To me, it is worth every moment when I need to stand corrected. Admitting I am wrong is well worth having a vibrant, thriving faith that thrills me to the core.
To refuse to be teachable or correctable means I miss out on the fullness of God in my life. Witnessing the glory that Stephen described, living a life that changes other people’s lives for God’s glory as Paul and Beth Moore have done, this is what I will NOT miss out on just to satisfy my own personal ego. My willingness to be wrong is an insignificant price to pay for that to happen.
The religious leaders fought hard against Stephen and Paul and as history revealed, it was on the wrong side of God’s will, even though it was done in “God’s name”. I have to ask myself, “What am I fighting hard for that isn’t God’s will or plan for me?”
I don’t want to waste my life but rather, pour it out for what God does have in mind for me. Who knows, maybe my life or your life is to make a difference for the kingdom of God like Stephen or Paul or Beth? Or Mary, Martha or Mother Teresa? Thankfully, that is for God to decide but the least we can do is be willing to stand corrected so that it can happen.
Friends, it will ALWAYS be worth following hard after Jesus, even when we must admit to being wrong.