I got a call last week from a friend of mine from college. It was strange to hear her voice on my answering machine, yet I recognized it immediately even though we hadn't talked in over 18 years. Jennifer wasn't one of my "best" friends in college, but she was someone I always liked and one of those people you would always remember even if it had been a long time — she was and still is just a really neat girl.
She shared with me that she felt led one day to try and find me, so she googled my name and stumbled upon our Faithbuilders website. After talking for a period of time on the phone, she told me that after reading my journals and devotionals that she had a difficult time believing that was me. She was just being honest when she shared with me that it seemed like the person she read about on our website was completely different than the person she knew in college. She said, (and I quote) "Well, you were always nice to me, but you weren't always nice to everyone else."
If God hadn't removed my blinders and redeemed me from the pit of hell in the last few years, I know I would've been completely defensive when she shared that with me. She was telling the truth and she was right. I was a stuck-up snob. I was a legalistic, religious, hypocritical, self-righteous snob.
So many different things played a part in this snobbish identity. For sake of time, I won't share them all, but take my word for it, I was a snob. In college, I thought I was so cool being a member of the Yada Yada Yada — not it's real name, but you get the idea — social club, which isn't even a club at any other Christian or state University! Yet in our little club, we somehow defined ourselves as the "most admired and popular club" on campus. I even dated the tall handsome green eyed guy from the equivalent Yada Yada Yada guy club, which also wasn't found anywhere else. I made good grades, was liked by most of my professors — except for one which will remain nameless since I really do think she despised me. I was competitive and a sports-snob, too, because I hated to lose ... at anything.
However, I remember that I desperately wanted to be a Summer Singer. I can't tell you that my singing and playing the piano would've earned me a spot in this prestigious singing group, but I can tell you what the professor choosing the members of the group told me why I wasn't chosen: I was a snob. He didn't use those exact words, but he asked me questions and alluded to situations (one in which I had said something very cruel to a guy who was directing one of our Spring Sing shows. This professor gently, yet very clearly, told me as I sat in his office that I was not chosen for the same reasons Jennifer shared with me on our phone conversation last week: I was a snob. As I sat in his office, it's one of the first times in my life that I can actually remember crying.
Who was I, this "Christian" girl, to think I was better than other people?
Where did my superior acting, falsely pious, behavior first begin?
I can't tell you exactly. I can, however, tell you how wrong and how sinful I was then, and still am today when I slip back into that self-righteous behavior. There are not a lot of things in the Bible that God says he hates, but he clearly says many times in Scripture that he hates pride. I was, and sometimes still am, prideful.
The thing that breaks my heart the most is I really did believe that I had the right to treat people the way I did. How I so desperately wish I could go back with the knowledge and the love that I have today. How I wish I could share the love of my heavenly Father, shine the light of Christ, and treat people with the kindness God has shown me. How I wish I could go back and develop relationships and friendships with all the people who I could've encouraged and who I'm sure God wanted to use to help encourage me ... regardless of the Greek letters ironed across our club shirts. How sad that I missed out on life-changing relationships because I was too busy trying to keep myself elevated on the pedestal of pride. My heart breaks to think how many amazing people God allowed to cross my path in the last 24 years that I missed knowing and loving because I thought I had earned a status and a "title" that others just couldn't quite measure up to.
Why am I sharing with you that I was a snob?
Because I wonder, am I still a snob?
Are you a snob?
Are we church snobs, do we think we are better or wiser, or more "spiritual" than other people because of the name on the concrete sign in our church parking lot?
Do we say things like, "Oh, she's a really good Christian!" (Is there really any such thing as a bad Christian).
Are we snobs at our work? Do we treat everyone with the love of Christ or just the people we feel meet our criteria of worth?
As we walk through the grocery store, or the mall, or the airport, do we silently judge and condemn people we see because of how they look or dress?
Do we think because we've been given certain gifts or talents from God that we have the right to act as if those gifts and talents are something we have earned?
We are all children of God. Period. God graciously opened my eyes on November 2, 2000 to the truth — our identity and our worth are found only in Him. We are all worthy and equal in his eyes because of His blood. We are created with different personalities and different strengths so we can stand together as one, so we can share the love of Christ to grow the Kingdom of God — NOT to take part in an elite club that allows us to feel superior because of the name on our sign.
Our only purpose here on earth is to be the presence of Jesus — to act, talk, walk, love and shine Jesus — in every relationship we have. But how can we do any of these things if we are snobs? I know I must have broken God's heart every time I told someone I was a Christian when my actions represented everything but Jesus Christ.
I thank God for the forgiveness of the Cross. I thank God for friends like Jennifer who can lovingly speak truth even when it hurts. I thank God for transforming the lives of his children and allowing us to remember where we came from in hopes that we can praise God for changing us and loving us and never leaving or forsaking us — even when we were, and sometimes still can be, snobs.
The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil. (Proverbs 16:5-6 TNIV)