How Do You Like Your Eggs? And Other Signs of Pious Self-Righteousness

Erik Cooper —  February 20, 2012 — 3 Comments

We spent last weekend in New York City. A extravagant celebration of my daughter’s 13th year of life, and three days of I-wouldn’t-change-a-moment experiences. Including a relatively obnoxious one our last day.

We took the subway to Soho, a trendy artist neighborhood in lower Manhattan, to meet some great friends who just moved to the area for work. We met up at a little cafe just off the main strip. The sign read “Community Table,” an awkward pull-up-a-chair-and-eat-with-people-you-don’t-know concept for this introverted, Midwestern boy. But we played along. When in Soho…

Until I opened the menu.

“All of our eggs are served soft-boiled.

“But I’d really like scrambled. Can you scramble a few up for me?”

“Um, no idiot. Soft-boiled only.” (OK, she didn’t call me an idiot, but it sorta felt that way).

Then my wife had the nerve to ask for toast.

“We don’t toast bread, plebe. I can bring you some plain bread.” (No she didn’t say plebe, but in a way she sorta did).

The food proceeded to come to our table in 20 minute shifts, but I couldn’t muster the nerve to protest. The waitress was scary. Obviously on an elevated level of culture my simple, scrambled-egg, Indiana upbringing couldn’t keep up with.

In risk of sounding as snobby as our waitress, this isn’t all that different than I’ve felt in some church circles in recent years. Like I don’t measure up. Perhaps some of it ties to my own insecurities, but there’s a definite overtone of emergent self-righteousness that makes me feel like I just had the nerve to order toast in Soho.

Over the years, I’ve grown to despise many aspects my conservative self-righteousness church culture. Defining true faith by an absence of swearing, abstaining from alcohol, (not chewing bubble gum), voting Republican, or never-wavering church service attendance. But the Fruit of the Spirit doesn’t read Prius, Democrat, and organic farming either.

The antidote for conservative piousness isn’t liberal piousness.

It’s Jesus.

But we all (and when I say all I’m first in line) have this uncanny ability to canonize our opinions. To violently swing the pendulum away from things that offend us. To find Scripture that backs up our personal preferences. And I’m just raising my hand today to say, “Stop it!

Self-righteousness of any flavor smells awful. Kinda like a soft-boiled egg (but hey, that’s just my opinion).

3 responses to How Do You Like Your Eggs? And Other Signs of Pious Self-Righteousness

  1. I can relate. It’s easy to feel out of place when selecting a church for its doctrine and not its culture. I still wear skirts to church. I play violin and prefer classical music. I like pageantry and a degree of formality. I attend a very accepting church, but I still don’t exactly fit in. Fortunately Jesus is preached and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is both welcome and sought.

  2. This sits very close to home for me. I have struggled throughout my Christian life with trying to find balance between “good christian” vs “pitiful sinner.” I have gone over the deep end in both directions. Playing the part of “always the good christian” is very exhausting; however, “pitiful sinner” always seems to land me in a pit of shame. The middle road can be confusing & full of self condemnation. God spoke to me a few years ago when I was on my “good christian” swing and becoming very burdened with keeping up the facade. He said to me “I am easy….YOU are making this hard. Relax!” That took SO MUCH weight off of me! Now I am free to love Jesus, do my personal best at following Him and pointing others to Him, and I no longer have to go on a week long fast if I choose to have a glass of wine in the evening or to skip church on Sunday because I’m loving my pajamas. I have finally learned that if God wants me to stop doing something, He always has a way of showing me. If I don’t hear from Him about it, I know His grace is sufficient for my shortcomings…and He continues to rock my world and use me for His Kingdom EVEN in the midst of them. 🙂

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