I used to think that self-righteousness was a Christian thing.
You know, it’s us Christians who are always pointing the finger, placing the blame on others, belittling and marginalizing. And really, that reputation is deserved to a degree.
Self-righteousness gets misdefined though.
It’s not just a holier than thou attitude. It’s not a belief that I’m right and you’re not. It’s much more than that.
Self-righteousness is the belief that I can do it myself. I don’t need other people. I am self-reliant.
Self-righteousness is the belief that I can do what I want. It does not matter that I am a created being with a purpose. I don’t have to be bound by those purposes. I can make myself whatever I want. Therefore, self-righteousness is a denial that we are creatures that are made to be a certain way.
And because self-righteousness is the belief that I can do it myself and I can do what I want, then self-righteousness is the belief that I can save myself. I don’t need a savior or a redeemer. I am good the way I am. I am perfect. I will save myself, either through religion or diet or sex or something else.
I started believing I could do it myself when I was two. And I’ve never quit since then. At times over the last four months of fatherhood, the only thing I could do was let go of my precious self-righteousness and say, “I’m really bad at this.”
Self-righteousness is not a Christian thing or a atheist thing. It’s not a gay or straight thing. It doesn’t belong to a race or class. It’s a human thing. We are all doing it. We shallowly believe that self-righteousness is merely judging other people. In fact, it is the belief that we have no judge.
Perhaps that is the greatest threat to our culture today. And that’s where we can start. As Christians find themselves further away from the culture, relinquishing our self-righteousness might be the only thing we can do. We can’t act humble for a couple of weeks, though, expecting people to suddenly think we are great. That’s not how it works. It might take a generation, or two, or ten, of Christians actually relinquishing their self-righteousness, of actually preaching Jesus’ righteousness and not our own, before people will listen again.