When we're young (and even though we pretend we don't when we get older) we really care what others think about us. No matter who you are, at some point in your life, I am assured you have considered what others would think, and changed your actions accordingly. Some people try to act really tough to impress others, some people tell jokes and act crazy, and some people are really nice to people to gain their affections. I was kind of a chameleon of sorts, growing up. I could change the way I acted, the way I talked, even the way I carried myself seamlessly to fit the situation. At school I was the funny guy who picked on people. At home I was the weird kid in the family, who although didn't make the grades the other kids did, made up for it in other areas. At church I was the kid who cared more about having fun than learning about God and living like Jesus. At camp I was the talented young man who really cared about God, the Bible, and his deep and meaningful relationship with Christ. Makes me sick.
You see, many of these attributes make up a small part of me, but almost all of them were a sham in one way or another. I tell you all this to give a little bit of insight into what I am about to reveal. This story revolves around the Carter who was a counselor at Camp Ba Yo Ca and had a "great" relationship with God. The real Carter only acted like he had a great relationship with God because he was surrounded by guys who actually did, and wanted to be like them, or maybe more importantly, there were pretty girls who valued a guy's Christian walk. So as I was working at Camp, I started to notice that approximately 10% of people were praying with their eyes open. I don't remember specifically, but I would venture to guess that a pretty girl was in that 10%. After I noticed this, I realized how I could make people think I was really "holy." So during every prayer, whether it be during a prayer where someone was praying in front of everyone, or we were having silent prayer time, I began to move my lips alot and contort my face like I was really concentrating on meeting God. It gets worse. Not only would I openly move my lips with the words I was saying when I was "praying," but if I ran out of things to say to God I would keep moving my lips, not even actually mouthing real words. The Holy Spirit must have given me the gift of tongues. This is ridiculous.
Jesus must have known I would do this, because he talked about me in Matthew 6. Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites (Carter). For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles (Carter) do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:1 & 5-8)"
My afflictions however, could not simply be fixed by praying in secret. My real problem was how awesome I thought I was, and how lame I thought God was. Whether I was acting like I didn't care about Him, or like I was the holiest of all the holy, I was simply bragging about how awesome I was, instead of how awesome God is. In Galatians 6:14, Paul shows us that he has overcome this way of thinking when he says, "As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died." If anyone had reason to boast because of his "holiness" it was Paul, but he realized how insignificant he was in comparison to Christ.
I am here to tell you I am a ridiculous person. I have realized how insignificant I am in comparison to Christ. I still struggle with pride, but God has shown me that if I can learn to make myself smaller and Him bigger, there won't be a need for me to show off. Jesus will shine so bright through me that He will do all the "boasting" for Himself.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)"
The best life you can live is nothing in comparison to the life Christ can live in you.