By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
As members of the fallen human race, we’ve got a problem. We’re always fouling something up, messing something up, shaking, scratching, bumping, breaking, and otherwise mutilating this amazing gift we’ve been given — the gift we call life.
Even at our best, and we are rarely at our best, we are, as Dr. Joel Gregory writes, “a bumbling, stumbling, falling, faltering, blundering group of folks.”
Human perfection is not possible. Not on our own. Not with anything less than divine power working within, and, even then, not completely until heaven. And that brings me — forces me —to this.
The only way to “measure up” to God’s standard is to accept by faith, to truly trust in, the sacrifice of the only perfect man who ever lived, Jesus Christ. If my salvation is based on my perfection in any area, “on my own head,” by my own effort, I’m doomed.
I know we can play games with this. It’s awfully easy, and miserable, to base our salvation not completely on Christ but on being “right.” We can pick and choose from a few pet religious rules we think we can keep, and quoting laws supposedly from scripture, even if we don’t know the spirit of scripture— or the Spirit, we can pick a few pet rituals. We can look to law (even God’s) for salvation. Pharisees always have. But law has always brought death; the Spirit always brings life. And we must choose. In the final analysis, we can count on ourselves, which is what we do if we count on law, or we can count on Christ, his cross, and the life of the Spirit. (Read Galatians.)
To choose law is to end up being deep-down depressed, guilt-ridden, and devoid of joy. Yes, we’re imperfect, and we know it. If we’re unwilling to completely put our weight down on Christ’s sacrifice, we’ve got to desperately, sadly, miserably, search all our lives for something we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. It’s fruitless. It’s deadly. But it’s tempting and any number of religions and supposedly religious people are caught in this damnable cycle.
But if “get over ourselves” and trust in Christ alone, if we love our Father and are sure of his love for us, then we’ll rejoice in him as he delights in us as his children and works through us, imperfect as we are, all because of the sacrifice of his only perfect Son.
Steve Brown of Key Life Network once mused about this. Somebody who wouldn’t have his job for any amount of money (you know the sort) had been criticizing him for some diddly-do little something. He laughed and said, basically, “Hey, if you knew me better, you’d know I have a whole load of glaring faults far worse than that one. I’m a sinner saved only by grace. But guess what? God’s working on me. Besides that,” he continued, “when you see a dog playing checkers, you don’t criticize his game. You’re just pleased and proud that he’s playing at all!”
Ain’t it the truth?