Maybe it’s my academic aptitude. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m 20 years old and engaged. It might be my dream part-time job or the fact that I blog or the way I bring neat and balanced lunches from home five days a week.
I’m not really sure what it is, but people always seem to think I have my whole life together.
Well, today, I’m here to tell you that I don’t. I’m here to tell you that I’m more like you than you think I am. There are days when I get anxious about the future and don’t trust God as much as I should. There are days that I roll my eyes and make snarky comments and then quickly wish I hadn’t. I sin, and I cry, and I feel lonely sometimes, and some days, I wish my life looked different than it does. I’m more like you than you think.
In a social-media saturated world that thrives on comparison, it’s all we can do to keep our identity from getting wrapped up in how “together” we have it…in how well we’re doing compared to the person whose Instagram feed we’re scrolling through.
Fight the tendency to do that. Find your identity and your worth in Christ alone. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, but when you’re tempted to compare your life to someone else’s picture-perfect Instagram life, please remember that social media does not portray people’s whole lives. It shouldn’t. That’s not its purpose. But it’s crucial to be aware of this.
She’s not going to post about how lonely and afraid of the future she felt last Tuesday afternoon. She’s not going to share just how steeped in sin she feels or how her prayer life has been a bit cold lately. She’s not going to let you know that sometimes, she thinks it would be easier to turn a blind eye to God’s calling than to follow it. Just because she doesn’t share those things with the world though, doesn’t mean she never experiences them. The facades don’t help you see it, but she’s a lot more like you than you think.
AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
At the foot of the cross, the facades are stripped away. How “together” we have it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But in Christ, we have been redeemed (Romans 3:24). The Apostle Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 6. After presenting a laundry list of sinners from adulterers to thieves, he writes, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
On the days when we feel less than, may we remember that our salvation is not about us and the quality of our Christian living. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is not a license to sin. Sanctification necessarily follows justification (James 2:17). This knowledge that we are saved by grace is not a free pass for unrighteous living, but it is a liberation from the comparison trap. You are not any less of a Christian because she posted a picture of her cute journal and highlighted Bible study notes and pristine vanilla latte and you barely managed to read your chapters for the day. You are not any less saved because she goes to Bible study three times a week and you only go once a week.
Our salvation is not based on us. We were dead in our sins until God made us alive again (Ezekiel 36:25-29a). Even now, we fight daily against a sinful nature that clings so close. If God loved me based on how much I have my life together, I’d be in a pretty awful place. Praise be to Him though, for He loves in spite of my shortcomings and pours out mercy to undeserving sinners like me. It’s not about our rectitude. It’s about His character. It was never about our deservingness. It was only ever about His grace.
A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Maybe people look at you and think you’re the perfect little Christian. Maybe they continue to believe that even when you know that you’re not. Take heart, redeemed one. Your sin and shortcomings do not make your Christian life a fraud. They make it genuine.
Whether by fear or sin or anger or shame, my “perfect Christian life” has fallen apart many times – only to be put back together again by a gracious God with careful hands and a loving heart Who knows exactly what He’s doing.
Consider these words from The Valley of Vision:
“Thou blessed Spirit, Author of all grace and comfort, come, work repentance in my soul. Represent sin to me in its odious colors that I may hate it. Melt my heart by the majesty and mercy of God. Show me my ruined self and the help there is in Him. Teach me to behold my Creator – His ability to save, His arms outstretched, His heart big for me. May I confide in His power and love, commit my soul to Him without reserve, bear His image, observe His laws, pursue His service, and be through time and eternity a monument to the efficacy of His grace, a trophy of His victory. Make me willing to be saved in His way, perceiving nothing in myself, but all in Jesus. Help me not only to receive Him but to walk in Him, depend upon Him, commune with Him, be conformed to Him, follow Him, imperfect, but still pressing on…”