Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God
Dr. Douglas Winnail’s recent assembly addressed that Satan uses worldly persecution to lure away those who aren’t unshakably grounded in the truth.
Scripture confirms this, and we all need to constantly guard against the anti-Christian nature of Satan’s world. But those of us who struggle with occasional or even frequent feelings of insecurity—who are just as harsh to ourselves as anyone in the world could ever be to us—may need to guard against something else, too.
While such individuals generally don’t like to talk about them, there are moments when being in the Church can make us uncomfortable. We don’t regret our calling—we’re grateful for it, truly. We know this is the right way, but we feel unworthy of walking it.
For those with frequent insecurity, this state of mind is too often the norm—pervasive and crushing. They look at their fellow firstfruits, and because most of our sins are committed in the dark quiet of our own private lives, everyone around them looks better at being good than they “know” they are.
What Tempts Us
Then comes a shock. You get out there—into college, the workforce, wherever—and you discover that people don’t hate you. Your beliefs that you feared would come across as insane to everyone are viewed as interesting by some. What you thought would be seen as self-righteousness is taken as respectability. People don’t think you’re bigoted or foolish, they think you’re fascinating. Intriguing. Good.
That’s truly hard to resist. Satan knows each of us better than we know ourselves, and in the case of those who feel they’ll never be as good as God wants them to be, the devil knows that they don’t particularly like themselves—but that they long to. He knows that, because they’re used to persecuting themselves, persecution from others may not so easily tempt them into leaving the Church.
But praise might.
Eventually, those with such insecurities eating at them may be offered an opportunity for something that will compromise God’s Way—perhaps by the very people who were praising them before. Assured by their human nature that it will make them into someone they, themselves, will finally be able to accept, the immediate, fascinating option is to bite into that fruit, because it looks and—temporarily—is delicious.
The other option doesn’t look quite so promising: resist, struggle, and go back to a Church filled with people they feel unworthy to be among. Pass the fruit up, and walk back into the daunting, lonely garden.
Our Father’s Promise
But if we allow ourselves to think deeply about our calling, God can lead us to a conclusion that becomes incredibly freeing.
As Mr. Richard Ames has often reminded us, Christ points out that none of us are truly good: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17). In this life, we never will be fully “good.” We are on this earth to learn what “good” really means, because frankly, we haven’t a clue. If we did, we’d never consider anyone in the Church “better” than we are.
Those of us who tend to be insecure are in training to become what we most long to be: Worthwhile. Valuable. That’s the point of all this—to do our best, which isn’t much, and be rewarded with His best, His perfection. In his world, Satan offers us something that isn’t one billionth as rewarding, but is, as Yoda might say, “quicker, easier, more seductive.”
Our Father and His Son are the only Beings in existence who actually know what it is to be truly good, because it started with Them. Incredibly, they want to share it with us. The praise and esteem we must refuse now “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We simply have to finish the race without keeling over. As long as we do, no matter what we place, our Father will carry our gasping, aching remains to the reward. He’s promised to make us good, one day. Right now, we have to show Him that we trust Him to complete the good work He’s started in us.
Dr. Winnail’s assembly message was absolutely true. Being grounded in the truth can protect us from faltering under persecution—even when that persecution comes from ourselves.