I was truly looking forward to Easter. Jon and I planned to send out newsletters to our various email lists. We planned to attend our church's sunrise service. We envisioned a detailed Passover lunch just like we've done the past several years. I thought it would be fun to take beautiful family photos.
But life happened. Jon, Wing Man, and I were still battling headcolds we'd contracted the week before. The warmer weather brought with it my annual headaches that I suffer from every Spring. There were no newsletters, photos, egg hunts, or special church services.
Instead, we stayed home and did a lot of nothingness. Even our Passover meal was lackluster; although we managed to put a few things together, I didn't even have the energy to get out the fancy dishes. We used corn chips in place of the unleavened bread.
It's a very good thing that the Christian faith isn't a works-based religion or a feelings-based ritual, because this past Easter, I had no good works to show and didn't feel good at all about how the day had gone!
In fact, I felt like a pretty lousy Christian for not being able to better celebrate the Risen Savior.
Maybe your Easter wasn't as rosy as you had hoped, either. Or maybe your entire year has been a disappointment. And maybe as a result of it all, you feel like a lousy Christian, too. If so, I want you to consider three important things:
Do you feel like a lousy Christian, or do you just feel plain lousy?
I mentioned that after our uninspiring Easter celebration, I felt like a lousy Christian. But in reality, I didn't just feel like a lousy Christian; I actually felt plain lousy all the way around! Many times, what seems like a spiritual issue is actually a health matter. Although it took me a few days to realize what was going on, I was actually sick.
Every year when the weather warms up significantly, I spend a week suffering from headaches and extreme fatigue. While I've yet to discover the root cause of it, all I know is that it happens every year. And every year, I tell myself that next year I'll recognize the symptoms right away, but I never do.
This year, it hit right before Easter. And on top of that, I was still battling lingering congestion from a cold I'd contracted the week before. Once I realized that I was actually sick and not just irritable, I did my best to rest and recuperate, and a few days later, I felt worlds better!
The next time you feel like a lousy Christian, consider whether or not there is an underlying physical problem. Often, there is a strong connection, and taking care of the physical issue can do wonders for fixing the spiritual side of things as well.
Do you feel lousy because you've fallen into the works-based trap?
In addition to having a physical illness, falling into a works-based focus can also cause us to feel like lousy Christians. Because we can never measure up to God's perfect standard, it makes completely sense that when we begin to rely on ourselves instead of God's grace, we begin to feel like we'll never make spiritual progress.
And leaning on our own understanding is SO easy to do, even for veteran believers! More than that, it can be incredibly difficult to determine whether or not you're relying on works or grace. If you struggle with any of the things listed below, they might be indicative of a works-based effort:
- Concern over how others view you
- Compulsion-based obedience
- A focus on God's wrath instead of on His love and grace
- Feelings of insecurity
Every Christian at one time or another has struggled with relying on God's grace rather than on his or her own merit. If you determine that you've been focusing too much on outer actions instead of inward faith, pray and confess your sin to the Lord. Ask Him to help you overcome the temptation to be self-reliant and instead to become Spirit-reliant again.
Do you feel lousy because God is convicting you?
Sometimes, we feel like we're bad Christians because we have a physical illness or issue. And sometimes we feel like bad Christians because we're relying on self instead of the Spirit. But at other times, we feel like bad Christians because God is convicting us of something.
Do you feel like a lousy Christian because you're either doing something you shouldn't be or not doing something you should? When we're living in sin, whether deliberate or unintentional, the Lord is going to convict us, and it's not going to feel good at first. But it has a purpose: to draw us out of our wrong ways and to bring us closer to the Savior.
Sometimes, when you feel like a lousy Christian, there may be more going on than is first apparent. You may have an underlying illness; you might have fallen back into a works-based lifestyle; or the Lord may be convicting you of something.
Whatever the root issue, it's good and necessary to get to the bottom of it so that you can remedy the situation and learn from the experience. Feeling like a lousy Christian is never fun for anyone, but the Lord can use it for His glory and to help you grow in your faith.