“The god Complex”
“Your tattoos and pipe smoking stand in direct opposition to your professed desire to be holy.”
What a ringing indictment. The type of accusation that really gets this pastor’s blood boiling. Admittedly, my initial response to this declaration was sinful; but through the power of the Spirit of God, and a few long drawls on the pipe, I have calmed down and am ready to face this monster head on.
For years I (and countless others with me) have been disillusioned and disgusted by the “god complex” that many Christ-followers (or perhaps I should say “Judaizers”) seem to possess. They posit their opinion in neat little packages of destruction that drive unbelievers away from the Gospel and shackle the saints in bondage. These folks claim to be holy, but manipulate and twist Scripture into theological origami that renders them more like the Pharisees than the Son of God.
Four things that must be understood as we trudge on: First, this blog is not about ink or booze. I have addressed the Biblical position, or lack thereof, on these issues of freedom in the past and will continue to do so in the future. This platform, at this moment, is not for that though. Second, I am all for personal holiness. I just do not believe that true holiness, as defined by the Bible, is a list of rules. It is rather imitation of and intimacy with Jesus Christ. Third, I am in favor of personal standards. We all have our preferences and that’s ok (a preference – by the way – is an opinion that might be helpful or wise but is not grounded in Scripture). When we start pressing our extra-Biblical standards on others though, and deride them as unholy if they do not meet up to these standards, we have perverted the Gospel and are in gross theological error. Fourth, I understand that many Christians today are using their liberties in dialogue, dress, and drinking to cripple weaker believers and bring ridicule to the church’s doorstep. I consistently reprimand these believers from 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14, instructing them to live with the history of others in mind. However, the abuse of liberties by some does not imprison the rest of us.
I can glorify God by eating a cheeseburger, smoking a cigar, visiting the silver screen, or swinging a 9 iron. These things are not inherently evil (though they may be unwise). Those with the god complex believe that they have the right to call things sinful that God declares useful. They also believe that they can justify their sin by picking at the supposed vices of others. I mean, how many times have we witnessed a scenario similar to this: a guy sits at Sonny’s obliterating helping after helping of bottomless pulled pork, until his face turns red and the buttons on his shirt appear that they could, at any moment, become tiny missiles. As he groans about how much food he has devoured, and how he needs to vomit (much to the pleasure of those around him), he sprinkles in his censure directed at the guy who chose to pierce his ears and thereby forfeit his place in heaven. I believe it is obvious, but the glutton with the god complex has conveniently overlooked his sin in favor of bringing heated condemnation down on someone for a preferential decision that was made.
Now please understand, I realize that tattoos, piercings, and an over abundance of make-up can be tools to express the rebellion in the hearts of people, young and old alike. But they are not, as inanimate objects, in and of themselves, wicked. You will never catch me at the beach with a jewel stapled through my naval (a sight that I am sure has some of you smiling). My reason for this though, is not that belly rings are evil, but rather that (in my opinion) I would look ridiculous and repulsive with a naval ring. While it may reveal my stupidity or my rebellion to do such a thing, the ring itself and having it stuck to my body is not unholy.
The gods around us would have us to believe it is though, along with so many other objects that time would fail to mention them all. So, what am I getting at?
Simply put – we need to be people of the Word who have repented of our propensity to set ourselves up as God, and are submitting to the true Sovereign who declares what is holy and what is sin. We should worship our Father who has given us so many things (those not expressly identified as sin in the Word) to enjoy for His glory. We should call sinners to the grace that is richly found in Jesus Christ, begging them to cast off sin (what the Bible labels sin) and find in the Lamb all the pleasures of God and joys of life. This is what I desire for BLDG 28 and for Christians everywhere. You and I make pathetic gods.