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My Broken Road to Grace: Post Twenty Five (You Simply Just Aren't Good Enough!)
Do you understand the pure Majestic Glory of God? If so I believe that it is one of two things. Either you believe that you do and you are just mistaken or you really don't but you think it is disrespectful to admit that. Please don't misunderstand I am not trying to call anybody a liar here and if it appears so, please accept my apologies. No, what I am trying to do is help those who like myself struggled for years with trying to understand everything that I knew or at least thought I did about Christianity and the attempt to live the Christian life.
I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church in the 1960's and during that time, church was very different that it is in many places today. First of all, there was no come as you are. You wore a suit and tie after you reached a certain age if you were male and a dress if you were female. You attended church regularly and often in a Sunday School class, Training Union meeting, prayer service, choir practice, etc. Where you were quiet and reverent and where those who spoke or made a contribution to the service were either the pastor or one of the respected leaders of the church, at that time usually male. It was nothing for the Pastor to stop mid sermon and call down a group of young people in the back often admonishing them for their disrespect and breaking them up by making each of them move to sit with their parents, an action today that would be simply unthinkable.
Out side the church things were different as well and there was a ever growing list of do and don'ts strongly enforced by the overwhelming mantra that good boys and girls go to Heaven. While I am not sure I ever remember it being specifically verbalized except from the pulpit in a "fire and brimstone" moment, the obvious position was of course that conversely, bad boys and girls don't. This left me in quite a conundrum because as badly as I wanted in my heart of hearts to be a "good" boy and always did what I could in the presence of a my parents, teachers and church leaders to give that impression the hard truth was I simply was not.
As a small child it wasn't really a problem, Certainly there was the occasional fib or misbehavior quickly and swiftly dealt with by my parents, most often my mother in the form of a whack on the rear along with the admonition "good boys don't do that" not willingly necessarily but nevertheless strongly enforcing what would come to be an ever growing concern for me as I reached puberty.
At thirteen my life began to really change. I discovered girls becoming enthralled with what they were all about and the possibility of a relationship that could potentially exist there along with cigarettes and foul language and the art of lying which would and did of course go hand in hand with the use or should I say misuse of any or all the above. As I got older the problem was certainly exacerbated by the freedom that came along with driving and thus being able to move about more freely and also served to throw the consumption of alcohol into the mix, a practice that was even more strongly frowned upon by the church and the older I got the more difficult it became for me to reconcile what I heard on Sunday morning with what I had done in the back seat of my car on Saturday night. Looking back most of what I speak of here was fairly innocent and had I simply left it a those things and eventually learned that which I know now to be the truth I strongly believe that I would have navigated my way to adulthood and probably settled in to a fairly peaceful and uncomplicated existence.
That however simply was not in the cards for me (yet another practice forbidden by many in the church in those days by the way.) I turned 13 years old in 1970 and although we didn't know it at the moment, the world, our world, the peaceful happy America that coasted through the post war years with the days of Eisenhower, and two car families, TV and sock hops and short hair and regular church attendance was about to come to a screaming halt only to be replaced with it's antithesis, the "If it feels good do it era." Believe me my friends I jumped in headlong and with both feet or at least as much as was possible for a boy in my position. I grew my hair long, listened to the music that was hated in that day by most adults, drank, smoked and did some minor experimentation with drugs and made sex a major focus of my life.
I was one of hundreds in my community, thousands across the south and millions throughout the country doing essentially the same thing. Growing up in a strange new off balance world, trying my best to figure out who I was, do those things that I not only wanted to do but for the most part appeared to be incapable of resisting for there were at least some halfhearted efforts in that regard, and somehow reconciling all that with the fact that I was, at least in name or so it appeared, a Christian who wanted to do what was right and go to Heaven. I simply could not make that work. I would do something I knew was wrong, love it, then once removed find myself on my knees in tears confessing it as sin and asking for forgiveness only to return for a repeat performance the following day.
This was my life for years. There was only one main change. It got worse, much worse, instead of better. Marriage, children, extramarital affairs, shady business practices, more and more consumption of alcohol, more lying, more cheating, more, more, more of everything I knew to be wrong but couldn't or at least wasn't willing to stop. The hard truth was this. I wanted to to do the right thing. I wanted to be a good Christian, I wanted to go to Heaven but I didn't think I could. I did not understand how a God with all these rules I had been taught for so long could or ever would allow that when I was at best a weak sinner who simply could not stop doing so many of those things I knew to be bad.
The struggle to understand became a source of true pain for me and try as I might, I simply could not. It wasn't until years later when nearly ready to give up I cried out to God in frustration asking Him to help me see the answer. What happened next was amazing. He did respond and His response was this. You won't understand, but you don't have to. That is not a requirement for salvation. In fact there is and always has been only one. Believe in my Son, accept Him as your Savior and ask Him to forgive your sins. He will. He will forgive those you committed at 13, those at 23, those yesterday and even those that will come tomorrow. You are Human, not perfect, you can't be perfect, I did not create you that way but Jesus intercedes for you and when I look at you, sinful or not, He is what I see and you are forgiven. My friends what freedom came with that knowledge.
The truth was all I had to understand was that I would not. I couldn't understand the magnitude of that gift and all that it entails. Proverbs 3:5 says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." Simple yet profound. Trusting can sometimes be difficult especially when the situation just doesn't make sense but here is the plain truth. Sinners go to Heaven freed from their sin and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. If they didn't Heaven would be empty.
My friend today, if you haven't already, acknowledge Christ as your savior and simply let go trusting Him to save you. He will and your battle will be over. You will no longer have to struggle with being "good" enough for you indeed never will be. What you will be however is redeemed and that is really all that matters.