I’ll Never Be Good Enough
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God . . . With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:24-26
As I was preparing to leave chemical dependency treatment a few years ago, I had a brief moment where I felt like I had everything figured out. I was sober. I was following God. I actually had this thought; I wonder what God will work on next. I’ve got all my struggles figured out.
Then, I came home from treatment, hit the real world, and realized how many problems I had other than drug addiction. Not a day has gone by since then that I haven’t failed in some way and that I haven’t had some destructive thought or behavior. This can be maddening. I’m prideful, gluttonous, lustful, angry, resentful, greedy, and just downright selfish. How many flaws do I have? I’m a mess and I’m always going to be. The Christian life is impossible.
This is similar to the question that the disciples put to Jesus in today’s passage. In it, Jesus told the rich young man that he must sell all he had. The young man couldn’t part with his money and walked away. Jesus explained that it was easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for the financially successful to find the kingdom of God. The disciples were dismayed at the absurd idea. Ok, how can anyone be saved? How can anyone measure up to the perfection you demand?
Jesus then made his point. It’s impossible for you to be good enough for God. You can’t earn his love. You must abandon self-sufficiency and turn to the God who loves you and makes the impossible possible (my paraphrase).
This is the blessed message of the gospel. We don’t have to be good enough for God. We don’t need to obsess about our inadequacies because we’re always going to be inadequate. We can’t earn God’s love. He just loves us. The only proper response to his love, is to abandon our self-destructive ways to follow him. That is a reaction to his love though, not a prerequisite. We can grow and we can be better than we are today, but we still have failures ahead of us. Thank the father though, there is always grace and forgiveness for his children.