We’ve had many discussions about sin, you and I.
We both grew up in a church-saturated environment, where scriptures were part of the daily conversation, Jesus songs were the first songs played on our record players, and all the children’s books in our bookshelves were illustrated stories of Noah and Zacchaeus.
But in my childhood home, grace abounded.
There might not have been a lot of ‘missing the mark,’ at least as it appeared on the outside, because we were taught to obey, and wanted to obey, because the Father up above is looking down in love… so we pretty much just obeyed.
It wasn’t about how we appeared in front of the church people.
It wasn’t about fear.
And it certainly wasn’t about earning our salvation.
I was taught that God is love – God is a good shepherd – and grace is a gift for all ye little children, because God is love, God is love…
YOU were taught that God is angry and glared down at you ready to let loose with a whip and was concerned above all else with the appearance of righteousness and held onto you by the frailest thread of fishing line which could snap so easily with the slightest misstep out of His perfect plan.
You’ve told me many times you were beaten for infractions. Better to be beaten black and blue than to lose your soul…. because in your world, ‘losing your soul’ was a distinct possibility. God didn’t love you enough to hang onto you and keep you, if you were a sinner. Or even appeared to be a sinner. One sin, and boom. Out of the kingdom. Salvation could be earned or lost based on your behavior.
After a good beating, of course, because as a child you couldn’t truly grasp the horrific consequences of losing your salvation, but you could certainly grasp the repercussions of a board on your behind in the meantime.
And because of all of that… the beatings… the pressure to be perfect… and the fear of a scary God, it’s awfully hard for you to accept that you – how shall I put this – aren’t perfect. I see how hard you try; really, I do. I see how you go above and beyond to do what’s best for other people, and to work as hard as you possibly can, and how hard you try to be a blessing to everyone.
But the Bible says that your righteousness, for which you strive so very hard, is filthy rags. It’s unfair, really. You try and try as hard as you can to do ALL THE THINGS exactly right, and God sees dirty rags.
You think you’ve got it all together, you think you’ve lived a good life, you think that as far as God’s children go, you’re probably one of the favorites.
You’ve worked so hard to become so.
And I can’t let another day go by without telling you with all the love in my heart, and not any judgement, the BEST POSSIBLE NEWS I KNOW OF: YOU’RE A SINNER.
Yep. You’re a sinner, and your best isn’t NEARLY good enough for a Holy God. The best you can do is comparable to giving a loved one a box of dirty, smelly, greasy rags for Christmas. The Bible says it over and over… all of us, we’re ALL sinners. All of us have missed the mark. Not ONE of us is good enough to earn a place in the Kingdom. Not ONE of us is sinless.
And that’s incredibly wonderful news!
Which might come as a shock to you, since you’ve invested a lifetime in being so good and all.
Because right now, this life you’re living? It’s sort of… slavery. The fact that you’re a SINNER is FREEING, because GOD NEVER EXPECTED YOU TO DO ALL THE ‘GOOD’ THINGS. Think about it… you don’t have to earn your own salvation.
BECAUSE YOU CAN’T.
When you can’t face the fact that you SIN, you become an idol to yourself… you try hard to be good, and with every good deed you do, you pat yourself on the back and your estimation of yourself goes up a little bit. You get a little bit prouder, a little more arrogant, a little more self-righteous. A little less in awe of the tremendous gift that God made available to you, because in your mind, you didn’t need it to begin with.
So for just a minute, I’d love it if you’d just be honest and really wrap your brain around this truth… I’m just me, and I’m a sinner. I sin. I have sinned, heck, at least three times today alone!
Sinning three times a day isn’t so bad, right?
Except that that’s about 1,000 sins a year.
About 70,000 sins in a lifetime.
And yeah, 70 grand is probably enough sins to keep you out of Heaven, and that’s supposing you only sin three times a day!
You know what the beautiful thing about God is? There are a LOT, but one of my favorites is that God LOVES US, while we’re yet sinners.
That one gives me chills…. oh, how amazing God is…
God adopts us into His family.
God chooses us.
God is inclusive.
God is accessible to all.
And God treasures sinful, broken people.
He treasures us so much that He sent a Redeemer.
He picked us up out of a deep pit of brokenness, and offered us a way out. And that way out doesn’t involve ONE GOOD THING WE EVER HAVE TO DO.
See, it’s a NECESSITY that we sin. IT’S A NECESSITY THAT WE ARE BROKEN. If we’re not broken, we don’t need redeeming. And if we don’t need redeeming, we miss out on the incredible gift of being grafted into God’s family. When YOU sin, it gives God a chance to fully show off the most amazing thing about Himself. (Of course, I’m not saying that you should SIN MORE, but just to understand who YOU are – a sinner – in relation to who God is – the Redeemer). We do people a HUGE disservice by not telling them the truth: that, yes, what you’re doing is sin. Yes, what you’re doing separates you from God. The ultimate freedom comes when you realize…
Oh my gosh, I’m … broken.
And I can’t fix it.
There are no beatings here, for the broken people.
There’s no shame when true Believers see you as broken, because true Believers want to point you to the open arms of the Savior who loves you.
He paid a tremendous price for you.
So take yourself off the throne of your life and stop trying to do All The Things Perfectly All The Time.
Let yourself be a sinner… but the catch is that you have to let Jesus be the Perfect Redeemer.
When you truly grasp the reality of that? That the God of the Universe loves you THAT MUCH?
I can’t even tell you. You have to experience it for yourself. The God of the Universe LOVES YOU.
Sin and all.