The other day I was driving up a hill close to my house. As I reached the top of it, I was shocked to discover I couldn’t see anything. The sun was sitting just above the hilltop and had suddenly blinded me with its intense light. After shieldeding my eyes, I looked around to see that everything around me looked black in the presence of the sun. I knew for a fact that my car was a quirky shade of sea foam green, not black. However, I couldn’t have proved it to you in that moment. The car beside of me could’ve been a brilliant shade of white, but it too looked as dark as night.
This is how ALL of our lives look when compared with the brilliant holiness of God. Perhaps your car, your life, has been unmarred by any of the “big” sins. Maybe it’s even a 9 on a holiness scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most holy. Let’s say the car, the life, beside you is pretty dirty…pretty dark and covered by sins of the “worst” kind. It’s so covered that we’d give it a 1 on our holiness scale. However, when we put both cars, both lives, in the midst of the blinding sun, or God’s unfathomable holiness, both lives look dark… even black. Our perception changes so drastically because of a presence that blows our (made up) holiness scale to bits.
In this context, can you see how silly it would be to start arguing about who was the better car, the better person? Yet, this is what we are tempted to do too often in our culture. Social media allows every action performed, every cup sold, every item stocked, every theme park day hosted, to be scrutinized and picked apart. We believe the lie that it is our responsibility to call out each person, company, or store when they fall short. We point fingers, and secretly feel better about ourselves because we aren’t as bad as “them.”
God says when we do this, we are totally missing the point. He tells us:
“But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.” Romans 3:21-26 (The Message)
We’ve all messed up. Me, you, the friend you unfriended, Target, Starbucks, and even the most magical place on Earth. In the light of God’s holiness, love, and redemption, Christ-followers are called to represent Him to the whole messed up world. Jesus was both truth and love. Therefore, we are called to stand firm for the truths spelled out in the Bible, BUT we are also supposed to live a life of love. Is this hard? Ummm….YES! I’d even say it’s impossible to do unless we are following the one who calls us to this high standard, while allowing our steps to be directed by His Holy Spirit. This kind of life is a life that speaks louder than any Facebook status or blog post. This kind of life speaks truths that can be heard, because it is delivered in love.
Today, let’s you and I resolve to live out of a place of thankfulness for what God has done, to speak from a place of love, and to walk only where He leads us.