Each spring, warm weather causes our family to look forward to summer vacation with great anticipation. At some point each summer, we can be found somewhere on a beach along America’s East Coast. Most of my oceanic experiences have been quite pleasurable, with the exception of one. Windy shores produced large, crashing waves that looked fun for a rookie boogie-boarder like myself. After an attempt to catch a wave proved unsuccessful, I found myself in an undertow. Unable to reach the shore and unable to touch bottom, panic set in quickly. A few gulps of salty ocean water later I remembered a tip that lifeguards gave to crowds earlier that day, and swam parallel with the shore until I was able to get my feet on solid ground again. Making my way to shore, standing ankle deep in the water, I turned and studied the merciless waters that I just frantically doggy-paddled my way out of. The lifeguard was right… you can’t see the undercurrent.
Many Christians underestimate the force of depravity flowing as an undercurrent in their soul. Pride is one of the most basic sinful tendencies that flow deepest in the human soul, requiring careful diligence and regular attention to overcome. The undercurrent of pride undoubtedly flows in the lives of many believers, affecting our attitude and seasoning our words just enough to hinder the flow of God’s love in our life without necessarily bringing any measure of conviction of sin.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin with intentions of increasing our humility and repentance, which paves the way for His grace to flow into our lives. Upon experiencing His love and grace, we are then able to pour out a similar grace and love to those around us. This is not a one-time occurrence for the believer, it is a continuing recognition of our lack of holiness and need for a savior. So conviction does not produce love… conviction produce repentance, which paves the way for grace, which produces love. In grasping this concept, we can understand that the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us for a lack of love unless it leads to a sinful action that hinders our intimacy with God. Holy Spirit will not tug on you to love people the same way that He tugs on you when you’re sinning. In the same way that our love toward God must be something that we choose, He expects us to choose to love other people.
The undercurrent of pride in the lives of many believers may not produce the fruit of a proud look, pompous behavior, or arrogant speech… but it skews our view of reality, causing us to exercise less passion then we should in loving the lost around us. It subtly causes us to think that by rejecting Christ, the lost are somehow deemed unworthy to receive His love. Thoughts like this rattle around in our subconscious…“When they are humble enough to come to Him, then they can be partakers of His great love.” This is not something we would say in conversation, but this is the point… it exists subconsciously in a prideful, unseen undercurrent, affecting our choices and behavior.
In reality, it is true… a sinner must respond to God to receive the fullness of His love. Jesus knew that sinners had to come to God in order to receive His love, but I am glad He did not sit back and observe whether I would do it or not, He came chasing me and made the way. We are not called to sit in church and observe whether or not Americans decide to choose God. We are called to chase them down. This is the gospel message. Jesus said “go ye”. Jesus said “follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men”. We must understand that the salvation Christ offers us includes a call to total submission to His Lordship. We are called to be “good and faithful servants”, doing His will at all times with immediate obedience. And this might burst your bubble, but I think Jesus thinks about the lost more than He thinks about His church. He’s given us principles to live by in the church. He’s encouraged us to care for and love one another, meeting each others needs; and He gave us the parable of the one lost sheep to let us know we’ll be just fine together as He focuses on rescuing the lost.
If Christ is in us today, as His Word declares, He’s probably going stir crazy wanting to get out of a lot of people. He didn’t take up residence within us so that we could obey a list of rules and sit back feeling good about ourselves. He’s inside us because He needs a body to work with in the Earth. Carefully search your heart today, for pride. Don’t look on the surface for things like haughty eyes, conceited prejudice, or pride in your speech, but rather gauge the deeds and actions of your life over the past year. Have you done anything to serve our Lord and allow Him to reach those He is most concerned about? Or has the undercurrent of pride secretly caused you to sit back and wait for sinners to “come to church” for help?