The Beautiful, Painful Truth
Galatians 2:16 A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ… because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Have you ever wondered if you were good enough for God? Have you ever worried that perhaps your bad behavior left you beyond redemption? The beautiful, simple truth of the gospel, Paul said, is that I cannot earn God and I do not have to try. I will never, by my good behavior, be good enough for God.
The self-made millionaire, the pastor and the inmate are all equal when it comes to earning God. No one can do enough good to impress him and so, in the grand scheme of things, we are all in the same mess.
The beautiful message of the gospel is that Christ’s sacrificial death restores us to God if we will but place our faith in him. We come to know God then, not by doing more good than bad, but simply by believing in him.
This message is a sweet sound to the addict’s lost ears. To the one who knows he will never be able to atone for the mountain of misery he has caused, Christ’s free gift is blessed salvation. The one who knows his disaster then, is better off than the one who still finds himself to be a pretty good guy.
To the self-sufficient, pretty good man, the gospel may be painful. To hear that God considers him to be on the same level as the inmate, is offensive. In his success, this man imagines himself either to have no need for God or to be able to attain God by his good behavior. This, is tantamount to one blade of grass thinking itself closer to the sun because it is an inch taller than the others. Only a fool would think a blade of grass could ever grow to actually touch the sun.
This is why Jesus said the poor in spirit will inherit God and the rich will struggle to find him. I can only find God by faith. This beautiful truth is one that I need to continually accept. I often imagine this passage to be for those who do not yet know God. As I already know God, I may find this verse to have little application for me.
I must continually embrace this reality: It is only in accepting my continual need for Christ that I continue to walk by faith. I still, do not earn God by doing good stuff. I draw close to him by keeping my eyes on him and pursuing an intimate relationship with him. This is faith, keeping my eyes on God, making my feet follow him instead of me.
The painful truth, is that I am still tempted by self-sufficiency. Though I desperately needed God three years ago, sitting in treatment, now that life has come back together, I grow complacent. In my success, my passion for God cools and I fail to pursue him as I once did. If I want to walk by faith, I must continually choose to turn my gaze from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency.