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Christ, My Only Hope

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite & devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another." Galatians 5:14-15

When I'm honest enough to look inside, to peel back the layers of who I am perceived to be, who I want to be, who I try to be, and look at my naked heart, I'm ashamed. I should be better by now. I should be an expert, not a beginner. An adult, not a child. But I'm not. I'm a selfish, sin-filled cur, a dark-hearted poser, an actor. Charlatan. There is in me no perceivable light at all. I am a product of my own making with no one to blame but the guy in the mirror who can't seem to surrender the simplest of passions, who can't crucify the most trivial habit or defeat the most insignificant fleshly foe.

I wonder, do others bother to look within? Are they happy with what they see? Maybe they are for they are surely better than me. I am the Chief of Sinners, so weak and inconsistent I can't even cry out for help without questioning my own motives.

Like others, I consume and bite the innocent with judgment, neglect, and uncaring disregard. My conscience is hardened and I hardly pause to consider how others might feel, what they might need. I feel only my flesh, think only of my needs, ambitions, desires or pain.

God gave Moses the Law as a love letter of sorts, expressing a way of life that revolved around God, around service, and around the community. We took it and made a manual of rules and boundaries that sucked the life out of living. Jesus came and showed, by His life, that we had it wrong. If the Children of Israel would have lived like Jesus, the history of the nation would be different. If we lived like Jesus the world today would be a different place.

Jesus demonstrated that life is rightly lived by denying yourself and loving your neighbor. If the church adopted this 'Jesus-style' of life, a whole different world would exist in time. Look what He accomplished by Himself in barely three years!

By simply loving every person, every day, He changed the world forever. We, on the other hand, demonstrate our love for Christ by loving ourselves and denying that we do. We convince ourselves that following Jesus will result in bigger and better stuff for us because, like our image of Santa, He wants us to be continually more and more prosperous and blessed on our own terms, and, logically, more and more selfish as a result. God help us.

The selfless life of Jesus, though, is not foreign to our generation. There are humans across the landscape lighting the world with love for others and selfless personal simplicity. Different than posers like me, these people really do deny themselves and love others in practical ways that value life and care for the weak and vulnerable. I know some of them. Jesus said they are the light of the world and they really are.

They even help me see through the murky darkness of my own junk. And again, laid bare in my own inability to change, I see Christ, still and always, my only hope.