(i had the idea today to just strip everything down and be as real as possible on here over the next week. i try to be “real” in everything that i do. i try to be transparent and admit to my mistakes and all of that stuff. but for this week, i want to simply focus on being as real as i can be and hopefully by doing so someone will get something out of it. i’m going to try and write something daily but with school and work that might not happen.)

one of the things that i love most about the people that i consider close friends is that we can talk about anything. when i say that, i mean that the conversation can bounce from here to here to here and all the way over there with no topic off-limits in the span of about two minutes.

on sunday night, i was at my kitchen table eating dinner and talking to one of these friends on facebook. it started off by me telling him to check out this song that i had heard. then it moved to something else. then i had a question on the theology quiz i was working on that i wasn’t sure about so i asked what he thought. then we changed the subject again and started talking about something else. a few minutes later, he tells me to check out something he’d written for a paper and i did. and the conversation kept going and going.

the question on my quiz and the thing he’d written for a paper were both on the subject of sin. it seems like wherever i’ve turned for the last week, the concept of sin was right there. it was the subject we were studying in my theology class. it was in something i read about. it was in conversations i had. it was the subject of a paper i had to write for my youth class.

no matter what i did, i couldn’t get away from this idea of sin.

if you’ve ever studied sin you know that when you study it, it starts popping up everywhere. you start getting tempted in ways you haven’t been tempted in a while. you start noticing things that you normally don’t notice. it’s really weird but it’s something that happens every time.

i’ve talked a lot on here about what my biggest struggle is (lust, pure thoughts, keeping a clean mind and heart). i know that those things are my biggest temptations. the thing is, i didn’t know why they’re my biggest temptations or why i even give into them.

i didn’t know until i sat down and got real with myself.

i’m selfish.

a lot of the time i think that because this type of sin isn’t something that harms other people that i can get away with it. that girl that wore that top wants me to look at her so if i look and think something that i shouldn’t then really, what’s the harm? it’s not like i’m doing anything wrong to her.

there are times where i think something along the lines of “well i haven’t been sinning lately and nothing’s changed and i haven’t been rewarded or anything so screw it, i’m going to give in and look over there.”

there are times when i simply don’t care. i know i shouldn’t do something but hey, i want to so i’m going to do it anyway. i know it’s not right but it’s what i want so who cares.

if i really get brutally honest with myself, those are three thought processes that come into my head that i follow at times.

i put myself before anything else.

one of the thoughts that goes through my head after the thought or after the joke is, “why am i still doing that? what the heck’s my problem? shouldn’t i be over that issue?” i focus on the act. i think that the actual act of sinning is the problem.

and i’m wrong.

the problem is with the idea of sinning. the problem is with me wanting to do what i want.

the problem, quite frankly, is me.

last week, i had to interview a student pastor for a paper for class. the topic was spiritual growth. in it, one of the questions was how would you define your process to spiritual growth. part of his answer was something that smacked me upside the face. check it out:

here’s the thing that makes jesus so difficult: he’s ruthless. he comes after the heart of you in the most ruthless of ways. he will not settle for you claiming his name and not living his life. he’s going to try to destroy that idea as aggressively as possible. 

i claim to be a christian. i want so bad to lead students to jesus and to develop them into future christian leaders. but sometimes i find myself not living jesus’ life. i find myself living jonathan’s life. i think that what i want is what i should have. i give into thoughts and temptations because they’re what i want.

being a christian isn’t supposed to be about what i want.

it’s about what jesus wants.

and that’s something that’s really, really hard to do. it’s something that i struggle with every day. i want to want what jesus wants, but part of me is still fighting to get what i want.

i’ve grown as a christian more in the past 18 months than at any other point in my life but i’ve still got a long way to go.

if i want to be real, i’ve got to start seeking the things jesus wants with everything i have.

if i want to be real, i’ve got to stop fighting to hold onto the things i want.

if i want to be real, i’ve got to die to myself daily.

i refuse to be fake.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.