Christianity is not about being good.
This won’t be news to you, but we Christians often pretend to have everything together even though we mess up as much, if not worse, than other people. My pastor recently said if we were more honest about our faults, rather than always trying to cover them up and put on a good show, then maybe more people would realize Christianity is not about being a good person and more about receiving forgiveness.
It made me wonder what I’ve hid from view so that I would give a better impression to people. Sometimes I have to laugh when friends describe their perspective of me because I realize what aspects of my character they don’t know. Intentionally or not, I’ve filtered what they see.
So let me make myself clear: I only look healthy from the outside. Jesus meant me when he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17).
As much as I look put together, I often:
- Become easily jealous if someone doesn’t have time for me because they are busy with their other friends.
- Resent when my housemates forget to invite me along in their fun plans even if I wouldn’t want to go anyway.
- Lose patience with kids at my agency who complain about being bored because they don’t like (or won’t try) any of the cool activities I have planned.
- Judge program participants who don’t respond to my repeated emails and phone calls.
- Consume far too much sugar on a daily basis in order to care for the body God gave me.
- Obsess over my interactions with attractive young men, reliving them in my memory and fantasizing about what future fairy-tale scenarios may result.
- Tithe to my church only on the rare occasion that I am not fearful of bankruptcy and yet buy coffee and ice cream on a whim.
- Pray inconsistently and often forget to pray for others even when they have requested prayers.
- Stop myself from talking about Jesus when I feel like it would make the conversation awkward or even produce a disagreement.
- Resist telling people what the Bible says is truth because I’m worried about appearing judgmental or unaccepting.
Wow. Did I just publish all that for the world to see? Hopefully I won’t regret it.
Depending on your standards, you may say none of the points on my list—or very few—make me a sick person in need of a Savior. These are just the typical struggles of any normal person. You might relate to more than a few. And since I didn’t name any of the “biggies”—say lying, stealing, or adultery—then I am a pretty good person overall, right?
The thing is…it doesn’t matter how I rank in the line-up of all human beings living and dead. This isn’t a beauty pageant, and three lucky girls won’t go home with flowers and crowns.
All that matters is what God sees. He is the one judge, and his standard is perfection. So he judges all people using the standard of one, the only perfect human to have ever lived. The only one who was 100% human and 100% divine. The only one since Adam and Eve who was born free of sin. And the only one to live in perfect obedience to God’s will, not sinning even once, not even on the point of death.
When the standard is Jesus Christ, “pretty good” is not good enough.
Thankfully, there’s such a thing as forgiveness. More on this next week.