SUPERSAINT: SAD IMITATION OF HOLINESS
by Patricia Backora
Some of Gods dearest children rightly suspect there might
be religious folk who wouldnt 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 Gods 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
cant 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 hell 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 Gods 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 hes 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 arent 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 arent
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, youre 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 hes 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
couldnt understand English. Orders getting delayed because
we couldnt 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 Id 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 Christs nature? Moreover she warned
me that she had already dropped one "negative" friend,
and if I "brought her down", Id be next to go. Some
Christian I was, she thought. I wasnt doing anything noteworthy
to advance Gods 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 Gods 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
peoples feelings, Supersaint feels like shes climbed
that much closer to God. But stepladder holiness doesnt measure
up to Gods sole benchmark of perfection: Christ Jesus. Contrary
to popular belief, God doesnt grade on the curve!
Why wasnt I just like her? Supersaint wondered. Why didnt
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
didnt look for sin in my every eyeblink. Im sure Christ
genuinely enjoyed spending the day with Zacchaeus the tax collector.
This guy already knew he wasnt perfect, and didnt 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 Supersaints life were filled with the fragrance of
Christ, he wouldnt give off such a sour smell.
AS A SERMON TOPIC IN THE MILLENNIUM
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 Gods 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 hed
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 saints" simple
joy in the Lord. Smugly he would remind his beleaguered brother
that he could "lose out with God" if he didnt 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 Christs holiness, lauded in joyous angel song.
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