I don’t know about anyone else, so I am speaking entirely about myself. So I want to be as candid as I can possibly be. I am not nearly as biblically grounded as I sound. Those that have read this blog get a snapshot of my thoughts, when they are coherent enough to be strung into an article on the Christian faith. My friends get a little bit more of me, especially when I do little more than repost quotes of great preachers, or link to articles and books, or even scripture, that I have read about the Christian faith on Twitter and Facebook. Those that get to see me in the flesh get to hear me talking about various theological issues and how we need to keep everything focused on Christ. In the end, I can often appear as a very spiritual man. In fact, some have actually come to respect my opinion on matters. But the truth is, I am not nearly as spiritual as I sound. Permit me to give you a view into my heart and soul, and perhaps we can learn why it is we need the grace of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Everyday I tell myself I need to read scripture. I get up rather early, so most of the time it is a mad rush for me to get to work on time because I hit the snooze button too many times again. The 30 minute drive usually gives me time to listen to a portion of a Christian radio podcast or sermon. I get to work before most of my co-workers, so I always tell myself to start my day with a prayer and reading at least some scripture. Of course, by the time I start up my computer, check my messages, plug in my iPod to finish listening to my podcast, check Facebook and Twitter on my my phone and get going on work, I can completely neglect my scripture reading. Thus my day starts regularly. Many times I do actually accomplish what I set out too, but more often than not, this is how it starts.
Often I look at my wonderful family and see the blessing God has given me. I promise God to nurture them and bring them up according to His word. But when I get home, I find the kids have fought my wife all day doing their homeschool assignments. Their room is a disaster and the cat has thrown up on the couch. My poor wife is stressed to the max and needs a relief. This should be such a great time to teach the gospel right? Instead, I admonish my kids for not doing what they were told. I threaten to get the garbage bag and throw out the toys they won’t pick up. I holler at the cat and chase her out of the room and I set forth to clean up everything so my wife will not be stressed. Of course in accomplishing what she has fought all day to do, I simply make things harder for her by making her feel inadequate. Rather than bring the peace of Christ into my home, I bring the iron rod of the dictator. Now, believe it or not, not every day is this way. Many times I have come home and we have a wonderful meal and fellowship. But on the other days, no gospel was shared, not even a Bible verse. A rank heathen could have done it the same way.
In my ministerial life I have been a street preacher, Sunday school teacher, and a Christian blogger. I share with people how desperately they need Jesus Christ, that their sin has caused irreparable damage to their relationship with God which will end in judgment for them. Yet Christ took the punishment they deserve upon Himself and that, through repentance and faith, they can receive salvation. I have shared online the desperate need the church has for preaching an undiluted gospel message. I have tried to call Christians to a deeper walk with Christ. Yet all the while, my own studies have gone neglected. Sometimes, I have not even reviewed my Sunday School lessons until the night before church. In the last year, my evangelism efforts have trickled down as I try to be a good minister in my home (the above paragraph outlined how well that goes). So while I want to see the lost saved and the saved grow, I do little to improve my walk with the Lord.
This is a snapshot of my life. The life of a wretched sinner who should, after 11 1/2 years of his Christian walk, have a much greater appreciation for the mercy I was shown. One whose walk so be so much further down the road. One who should speak with kindness and mercy, rather than the biting sarcasm and snarkiness that have come from my lips so many times. One who should value eternal things than the things of this world (such as the iPad that I write this on, or my Kindle I just had to have, or my phone that gives me access to Facebook, Twitter, etc, or…you get the idea). One who should get up everyday weeping with joy that I did not wake up in the bowels of Hell as I deserve.
The reason I write this is that, while I do not know if or even how you might struggle, this is my daily walk. This is the person I am, the one who desperately needed saving because, of my own accord, I am not even close to being a good person. This is the person who many have, for some strange reason, come to respect and believe I have something valuable to offer. A person who often thinks he does have something valuable to offer. I have nothing to offer the world, saved or unsaved. I am a wretched, stinking sinner who is good for nothing save the fires of Hell. But my Savior, now that is something different.
My Savior took a stinking sinner and died for his sins. He cleaned him up and made him into a new creation. My Savior gave him a desire to read the Word of God. My Savior gave him a heart to worship. My Savior gave him the desire to share the word with anyone who would listen, including his own family. My Savior did all this, I did none of it. My Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, the maker of Heaven and Earth, the eternal God who became Man to take the sins of the world upon Himself. He did this all, and does it every single day of my life, and of the lives for those who repent and believe.
All those wretched things I described of myself have been paid for at the foot of the cross. Now I am no longer held in account for my sins, for they have been put upon my Savior’s account. Now I am free to worship and serve my Lord, even when I blow it every single day. Now I can see my sins for what they are, know that I am no longer judged by them, and repent so that I may serve God freely. If ever you look at me and think you appreciate something I have said or done, if ever you, perish the thought, think I am somehow holy or more spiritual than anyone else, please ditch those thoughts right into the garbage. Know that anything good that I have accomplished comes directly from my Savior. Know that I still struggle in my flesh and desperately need prayer. Know that I desire to see my self changed daily so that I am more like my Savior. And know that it is the Savior to whom I desire you to look to most of all.
I wish I was as spiritual and biblical as I sound, I really do. But I have come to see myself more and more in the light of the gospel. I realize I never can be. But I realize that is why I need Christ, and why you do too. Our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags to our Lord. But the righteousness of Christ, that is what we need to rely on most of all. So trust not in your own abilities. Don’t think your daily reading, prayers, worship, etc. make you a better Christian. They will help you grow immeasurably and cause you to appreciate the Savior more, but they will not add one iota to the righteousness you receive in Jesus Christ. Nor does someone’s lack in these areas tarnish the righteousness of Christ. Seek not to be a “better Christian” but seek more to love the Savior who made you righteous to begin with.