Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Mom, I'm a good kid. Really!
A few weeks ago, I was teaching a lesson in our Children's Worship service on Matthew 6:19-21. This is the passage on "treasure," where Jesus urges his disciples to not set your heart on earthly treasure, but lay up "treasures in heaven, where nothing will destroy them and where theives do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
As we spoke about what our hearts desire most, the conversation shifted to how God desires to be our treasure, how he wants our attention and energy to be on him, and by loving a created thing more than the creator, we make that thing an "idol" and sin against God.
In that moment, 1 of my kindergarteners raised his hand and said 'Mr. Drew, I have not committed 1 sin this entire week. I'm a good kid!'
In our heart of hearts, many of us think in very similar terms to that precious kindergartener. We either: 1. Shrink our own sin in an attempt to make ourselves more righteous than we really are... OR 2. We make ourselves low and think that we are nothing and that our lives are meaningless.
Let's consider what God says about both statements.
1. We shrink our own sin in an attempt to make ourselves more righteous than we really are.
In Matthew chapter 5, the chapter before Jesus talks about our what our hearts treasure, Jesus tells the disciples that "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." The Pharisees were known for being the "most religious" people anywhere. These men were the religious leaders of the day, teaching God's law, studying God's law, making additional rules in order to make sure everyone kept God's law. These men, in comparison to every other human being including us, were better. These men would have to be viewed as most "like God," since they knew what God commanded better than anyone else and attempted to live out His commands better than anyone else.
However, in many different passages, Jesus denounces them for being "white-washed tombs," "a brood of vipers," and "not knowing the Father." If the men who we on Earth consider to be the best do not measure up to God, what makes us think that we possibly measure up to God? 1 Peter 1:16 says, "Be Holy, because I am Holy declares the Lord." We are not holy (aka perfect.) We don't measure up to God's standard, and we cannot make ourselves righteous (more right in God's view) by trying harder or comparing ourselves to others.
2. We make ourselves low and think that we are nothing and that our lives are meaningless.
Shame. Guilt. Unfair blame. Despair. Sadness. These words and others speak to how many of us feel, that we have done things or things have been done to us in which we are not worthy to even look other people in the eye, much less have our lives mean anything to God.
John chapter 4 sees Jesus in Sychar, a town in Samaria, which was a region that "religous people" would have surely stayed away from. In that place, Jesus encounters a woman whose name is not mentioned, who is at a well gathering water at noon. This woman is there in the heat of the day because she feels great shame, having been married and divorced 5 times and currently living with a man she is not married to. No one to love her, the woman lurks in the outskirts of society, feeling meaningless.
In her brokeness, Jesus tells her, "I am the Messiah, the one you can worship in spirit and truth." The woman leaves that place experiencing love, establishing a relationship with the only person who was without sin and who did not have to hide. Out of that love Jesus has for her, she goes and tells all the people in her town the good news of Jesus Christ and how he alone is worthy to be worshipped.
What is the answer?
To view ourselves as good and not need God, is to remain blind to the depths of our sinfulness. To consider ourselves without value, is to take away the huge victory that Jesus Christ accomplished on our behalf.
Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
The answer then is to live this life with purpose and passion, to do good works, and to love other people well because we have been made right with God through Jesus.
Yes little kindergartener, you are a good kid! But you're not a good kid through your own efforts at being good. You are a good kid when you know the great love that Jesus has for you. Now go, tell others where they can find the only one who was truly "good."