Today is my birthday. I’m not desperate for a party. I’m not desperate for gifts. I’m desperate for a pardon.
For far too long I have sought after the approval of others to find life.
For far too long I have searched for life in creation.
For far too long I have been trying to make myself into a god.
I want life my way. I jokingly tell the students in the youth group that I make the rules and I also break the rules. I want to be the center of attention. I want all the credit.
But frankly, living life like that is exhausting. It is enslaving. I am enslaving myself to my work and to others.
I’m desperate. But listen to me…
I don’t need a second chance. I don’t need a do-over. I don’t need another opportunity to try and get it right.
I will make the same mistakes tomorrow that I made yesterday. Christianity calls this the sinful nature; my default mode is to attempt to be my own god by either living life however I see fit or by attempting to be good enough to outweigh my bad.
I’m desperate because the “scale” (1) will always have the bad on it.
And I am not even making claims that only Christians make either. The world knows that there is something wrong within the world. Culture and society makes millions/billions off the idea that if you have a problem, if you have an issue, there is a way that you can solve it.
Cultural therapeutic morality says that if you have a problem, that it haunts you, maybe you’re addicted to drugs, or you have self-image issues, you can work that out by talking it through, working hard at it to try and control it, re-orient yourself to fixing the problem.
However, here is the problem:
You’re the problem.
You’re the problem. So how can you be the problem and the solution? How can you, a person who struggles and desperate for freedom from anxiety and depression and fear over finances, sexual addiction, broken relationships, body-image, etc., be the problem and the solution?
We are all trying to be our own saviors.
And frankly, I am tired of trying.
Because I can’t.
I can’t do it. I’ve tried being good.
I’ve tried controlling my sin.
I’ve tried all the tricks.
They don’t work.
If I am the problem, I can’t be the solution.
That is why I need the Gospel.
Gospel is a word that literally means, “Good News”. For news to be “good” it has to come into a bad place. It has to be seen from a bad set up or scenario. Good news is only good when we understand the bad.
The bad news is that I am a sinner and God hates sinners. God hates sin. When God deals with sin, the punishment for sin is death because God is perfect and good and just. He can’t be around things that are not perfect, bad, and unjust. At all.
The bad news is that I am a sinner and no matter how hard I try to save myself from my sin, any attempt I make will leave me in a deeper hole. If I say that I “beat my sin” I will eventually become arrogant and prideful against God … which is a sin. I’m saying to God, “I don’t need you! Look, I did this myself! Who needs you!?!”
But the Gospel is Good because it is invades bad places.
Yes. God hates sinners and sin. He is perfect so any amount of sin needs to be punished because he is also perfectly just and that punishment is death.
But God also loves sinners. When you and I are in our darkest places, the furthest point away from God, he loves us.
He, God the Father, sent his only Son, Jesus, to stand in our place for our punishment. God substituted himself for us on the cross forgiving us of our sins and gifting to us all the good and right things that he earned with his life for free.
I’m desperate for this.
Because if Christianity is about me getting better … I’m not … so I’m in trouble.
If Christianity is about me controlling my sin … I’m not … so I’m in trouble.
If Christianity is about me being that “good person” that I once portrayed myself to be … I’m not … so I’m in trouble.
But if Christianity is about God loving me despite my sin … and out of his love for me, he sent his son to die for me on the cross, taking the punishment for me, giving me life with God so that he is no longer angry with me but calls me beloved son … I have hope.
It is good news that Christianity is about me being good, doing good, looking good, having good finances, have good friends, having the right car, being beautiful, being pure, controlling my sin. All of those things are good news.
Because it frees me to just be in love with a God that loved me first.
It frees me to want to be in a relationship with Him … so that I will confront my sin and the dark places in my life, without fear of condemnation because there is no sin too deep in my soul that is too egregious that God did not die on the cross for already.
This is what we celebrate. Jesus on the cross saying, “It is finished.”
Next week at Youth Group we are finishing up our series in the book of Mark and we will be talking about the implications of the resurrection.
1 – Listen to me, there is no scale. There is nothing you could ever do to outweigh your bad because the smallest amount of “bad” or sin compared to a PERFECT God is still sin.