Christians and Self-Righteousness
How often do you hear the complaint that Christians think they are better than everyone else, that they are self-righteous?
It has been something I have been pondering lately. The bible tells us how morally flawed we really are, yet some don't seem to realise it. Often times I think that non-Christians think this because they don't understand when Christians talk of morals and doing the right thing, the Christians recognise that they fail to do the right thing all the time. Christians in fact, will generally recognise how far they fall short to a greater degree than non-Christians. Ironically, this means that the Christians generally will think of themselves as worse people, than the Non-Christians think of themselves.
C.S. Lewis understood this contrast when he said "When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less....Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either" (Mere Christianity p73)
I have to agree, the more I try and improve myself morally, the more I see how sinful I really am. J. Budziszewski wrote about the flip side of this when he talked about "The Revenge of Conscience"
Conscience is not a passive barrier but an active force; though it can hold us back, it can also drive us on. Moreover, conscience comes not from without but from within: though culture can trim the fringes, the core cannot be changed. The reason things get worse so fast must somehow lie not in the weakness of conscience but in its strength, not in its shapelessness but in its shape.Budziszewski goes on to explain why our consciences drive us to justify worse and worse behaviours once we have started down that road. I have often heard it said that one of the reasons Christians don't stand up more against abortion is that too many of them have had one. To admit abortion is wrong would be devastating to them. That is what Budziszewski is talking about. Our conscience gives us a choice to either rationalise our sins further and further, or face the devastation of recognising our sin. The worse our sins, the harder it is to choice the second option and that is the revenge of conscience.