Will I Ever Be Good Enough?
Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Luke 18:18
If I were to criticize my own writing on faith and recovery, I think I would perhaps find fault with my emphasis on man’s role over God’s. I write repeatedly about how we must daily abandon our way for his. In reading my blog, someone might get the idea that as Christians, we do all the work and that God just sits back, judging us, doling out painful consequences for our failures. My writing may seem to suggest that God expects perfection and when we don’t achieve it, he smites us.
This kind of thinking quickly leads to frustration. We’ll never be perfect, and we’ll never be good enough to earn God’s love. We can try and try, but we’ll never have a sinless day and we’ll always fall short. Though we may change some of our behaviors, we retain destructive appetites that continue to turn our attentions and behaviors in a direction we don’t want to go. If we’re in a performance mentality – I must live right to earn God’s love – we’ll always, unless we’re blinded by pride, feel like failures.
Today’s passage tells of one such wealthy young ruler, who relied on his own behavior for salvation. This man lived a righteous life and wanted to know God, but something was missing. So, he went to Jesus and asked him. What must I do? It’s possible that he was honestly asking what his right response to God’s grace was, but Jesus’ answer seems to suggest that the man relied on his own performance for salvation.
This man lived piously, keeping all the commandments, yet still, he hadn’t found faith and he hadn’t experienced the kingdom of God. He could feel this void, and his answer was to behave better, to do more.
The problem, is that none of us will ever be good enough to earn God’s love, grace, and mercy. He already loves us, and we find eternal life in him simply by whispering the prayer of the tax collector, God, be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:13)!
As followers of Christ, we’re supposed to live differently, but any work we do to pursue God’s path is in response to his grace, never to earn it. We’ll never be good enough for God. Thankfully, we don’t have to be. He just loves us, no matter what.