by Patricia Backora

Some of God’s dearest children rightly suspect there might be religious folk who wouldn’t be too happy to see them up in heaven. There are saints, and then there are supersaints, so called because these egotists have an hyper-inflated opinion of their own spirituality. Every day they put on a show of religiosity to impress others. They see their sins as gnats and yours as elephants. But it is the saint who knows he is poor in so-called spiritual refinement who relies on God’s grace the most. God finds it easier to use a humble Christian. He can take a person who is poor in spirit and bestow upon him the True Riches which endure. The more you are emptied of self-sufficiency, the more you can draw on the Life of Christ in you.

Christians are called to be saints. A real saint shows the compassion of Christ without ulterior motives or grudging. A supersaint just can’t understand why his brother has stumbled into snares that he himself has, up to now, avoided. He will not soil his own hand by reaching down to pull his brother out of his pit, and even if he does, it is usually with the ulterior motive of giving him a verbal whipping afterward. He just knows he’ll never sink into his own Valley of Humiliation.
A saint keeps himself in proper perspective, even as he strives for holiness. He knows he can be tempted, he knows he can grow angry, that he can give way to despair when enough things go wrong in rapid enough succession. He knows that the flesh nature is a warped, dead remnant that will only be cast off when he is promoted to immortality. A truly humble saint knows he is fragile, that unless he is held up by God’s everlasting arms, satan will have him for lunch. The supersaint rests on his or her own laurels, boasting that he is spiritually rich, and in need of nothing.

The heart of a saint is a tender heart, able to feel for those who are in any trouble, because he’s been in the Valley of Humiliation himself. He will want to put you at your ease. He is willing to discuss the mundane matters of life with you, not coldly shut you out because your thoughts aren’t always in the clouds. But the supersaint will gruffly ask his "less spiritual" brother: "Why do you bother to be friends with those people? Those aren’t the kind of friends that promote spiritual growth in a Christian." Nobody seems to be good enough to grace the presence of Supersaint.

Self-righteousness will sour your face so much you can even lose your joy, you’re so worried about defending your carefully cultivated image. A supersaint thinks he is above showing a little empathy, and even gives a smile grudgingly. It seems the only time he likes to smile is when he’s about to rebuke you. Otherwise Supersaint thinks laughter is of the devil. I remember times when my sense of humor helped keep me going every day. My "more spiritual" friend thought I must be backsliding because I looked for the humor in daily life.

A heart made merry by the joy of the Lord does good like a medicine. Real holy laughter come from a deep-down assurance that God has lifted my burden and is about to bless me. I depend wholly on God to keep my soul serene in this unedifying world. Isaac, father of Jacob, has a name which means "laughter". His parents laughed with joy at his birth.

God must have a sense of humor, considering some of His creation. The spider monkey who performs acrobatics in the trees, the knobby-kneed camel, the giraffe, the awkward-looking ostrich, the laughing hyena; all the weird fish in the sea, some of whom even glow in the dark. God loves variety.

Supersaint wondered what on earth was the matter with me. Whenever I dropped by to enjoy the peace and quiet of her home, she picked up on any residual tension, especially if things were going awry in our restaurant. It could be any number of things. Repairmen who couldn’t understand English. Orders getting delayed because we couldn’t get crucial ingredients As the most flexible member of staff, I did most of the shopping and legwork. When the street crowds got so thick they slowed me down, I felt like screaming at that stubborn, immovable mass. Oh, but I never heard Supersaint scream. Often I was up way past midnight,finishing prep work or doing dishes. While HER arms were lifted in praise, mine were sunk into a sinkful of greasy dishwater.

She had a nose for detecting sin in others, so I did my best to look relaxed. One day I was in a bad mood. I said I longed to go to heaven, where I’d never have to fight the devil again. Her response: Why should I want to go to heaven, just to get satan off my back. She liked it just fine here on earth. She boasted that she counted it an honor to endure trials for Jesus’ sake. But Love does not boast. Love is tender-hearted...or did she overlook that fundamental element of Christ’s nature? Moreover she warned me that she had already dropped one "negative" friend, and if I "brought her down", I’d be next to go. Some Christian I was, she thought. I wasn’t doing anything noteworthy to advance God’s Kingdom. I was too busy making chili and shopping. My, what a lazy person, wasting 60 hours a week on carnal duties! She even compared me to backsliding Lot sojourning in Sodom.

Yes, every supersaint thinks he or she is God’s shiniest nickel. Makes me think of how plump people love to stand next to morbidly obese people. It makes Supersaint feel so much taller inside, just knowing she has a spiritual Pygmy for a friend. By stepping on other people’s feelings, Supersaint feels like she’s climbed that much closer to God. But stepladder holiness doesn’t measure up to God’s sole benchmark of perfection: Christ Jesus. Contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t grade on the curve!

Why wasn’t I just like her? Supersaint wondered. Why didn’t I nag my husband night and day about his every fault? Why was I friendly with unreligious people? No matter that Christ Himself dined with sinners. I felt like I could breathe around people who didn’t look for sin in my every eyeblink. I’m sure Christ genuinely enjoyed spending the day with Zacchaeus the tax collector. This guy already knew he wasn’t perfect, and didn’t have to hide behind a mask. He could be real with Jesus, and Jesus could do more for him than He could for religious experts who were always setting traps for Jesus, hoping to trip Him up so they could accuse Him of sin.

If the Supersaint’s life were filled with the fragrance of Christ, he wouldn’t give off such a sour smell.



Before Christ came to humble the proud and exalt the lowly, supersaints proliferated among the devout. Such a deluded soul typically was one who had soaked up just enough religious mysticism to make his head swell. He (or she) had forgotten that the gateway to salvation was not high enough to accommodate a haughty head which refused to bow in childlike dependence upon the only One Whose blood could make him pure enough to approach a Holy God. Rather, Supersaint would try to curry God’s favor by outshining others. Scholarly supersaint would subtly put down saints less articulate than he in sharing the Word of God. Affecting a facade of self-denial, he would scorn those who derived enjoyment from tangible blessings as well as spiritual ones; that, despite Scriptural evidence that Christ enjoyed fine food and drink Himself. So much for the saving power of asceticism.

Sour-faced Supersaint would castigate those who buckled beneath burdens heavier than his own; although deep down he knew he’d be unable to weather storms of equal severity with equal grace. The more affluent supersaint tended to have little patience with the poorer saint whose long working hours left him too rushed and tired to immerse himself in exhaustive Bible study. Diligent Supersaint cloistered himself in the serene tidiness of the small, self-centered sanctum of religiosity which comprised his own world. His pride and joy was his fat notebook full of new revelations which were his passport to "the deeper knowledge of Christ". Ever alert to the tiniest flaw in his brother, Supersaint was always ready to serve up a heaping helping of his self-ordained "ministry of rebuke", rather than offer practical help to someone he dismissed as extra baggage on the "Glory Train".

A grim, puffed-up egotist, Supersaint was ever poised with a pricking pin to burst the bubble of a "carnal saint’s" simple joy in the Lord. Smugly he would remind his beleaguered brother that he could "lose out with God" if he didn’t struggle harder to be fruitful in the Life of Faith (that is, be more like himself). Any truly spiritual person would take offense at being called a supersaint.

Most especially now, when Christ Himself walks among men on earth, and sanctifies it merely by being here in all His ineffable Glory. Anyone whose blind eyes have been opened can readily see the glaring contrast between the grey wash of human goodness and the intensely bright Glory of Christ’s holiness, lauded in joyous angel song.


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