I think the time has come for believers in Jesus to realize the existence of what I call the Christian jerk.

I have contracted the virus of this identity several times, and I perennially suffer from it.

Strict denominations, some fundamentalists, and Westoboro Baptists, are the extreme examples of Christian Jerkism.

Phariseeism (I’m better than you) and no concern for other people’s suffering or struggles can be versions of it.

A shallow, false, or hollow presentation of holiness can be part of it.

“My way or the highway,” endless rules, judgmentalism, purely intellectual quarreling, and self-righteousness and rigidity are symptoms of Christian Jerkism.

Basically, I believe it comes from not having a simple spiritual center to one’s faith (Jesus), and the resulting irritation and need to be right about a thousand things, that makes a person become a Christian jerk.

A lack of spiritual growth, a lack of following the Spirit, and a lack of realizing that I am a needy recipient of God’s grace, are also a part of it.

A belief that Christian growth is an automatic process without my will or effort can be a part of it.

Another part is not living by the reality that I am a saint, but that I still have a sinful nature, and that that nature needs to be considered dead, daily.

When I see myself as a saint who has a sinful nature that needs to be considered dead, then, I think, the process of practical spiritual growth and soul growth begins. Why else take the Lord’s Supper? Why else confess our sins and repent of our sins (change our minds about particular sins)?

If one sees himself only as a sinner, then there is no practical faith in the righteous identity in Christ.

If I see myself as a saint only, then there is no accounting or acknowledgment for the thousands of times when I am not living by faith, grace, or by God’s Spirit in my spirit.

If I think I am practically perfect already, then I can never improve practically by living more from Christ’s Spirit in the righteous spirit of my new self, and I can never apologize.

But this way of realizing our dual nature must not degenerate into sentimentality, or sinking emotionalism, or a liberal tolerance of a degraded lifestyle.

We confess our sins and weaknesses that the Spirit of Christ, and His power in grace, may be with us as we will and do His will in His love and His Spirit of Grace.

I don’t think I have this all worked out perfectly, so please send your comments, questions, and improvements to what I’ve said here–thanks.

Curtis Smale