Just add ‘super-sleuth’ to my resume. The last posting generated an enormous amount of discussion and I am so grateful for Steve being willing to share his story, I know that it challenged and encouraged many. Being the host of the blog, I have access to the site’s dashboard that tracks traffic patterns and what I found there had me prowling about like an online Holmes (ok, I’m more like Clouseau). I cannot tell who is visiting the site, but I do know how many, which country they are in, and which links led them to the blog. And here my attention was drawn to a new link. There was a noticeable amount of traffic coming from freejinger.org. I was intrigued, my curiosity was piqued, and my sleuthing began.
Freejinger.org, is an online forum for progressive women who wish to discuss political and social movements. Traditionally minded people are welcome but warned; “”Because Mama and Jesus told me so” is not sufficient to protect you here.” Duly cautioned, I continued my investigation and discovered a long discussion swirling around Steve’s post. A lot was said, little of it was kind, but then I was warned!
I did not respond, but I wish I had. I guess I was unwilling to get sucked into a fruitless dispute, and I still am, but there was a single comment that deserved a response. One contributor expressed confusion over the Christian concept of forgiveness. How is it, she asked, that a destructive person can be absolved of their sins and enter heaven on account of their faith while an atheist who has lived a morally upright life is sentenced to hell? She insisted that a god who doesn’t value noble, human performance isn’t worthy of worship (she was less polite in her wording).
I wish I had responded. This is what I would say:
Such a god would be incomprehensible. But the God of the Bible is nothing like what you just described. He does value noble performance—holiness is prized by him. In fact, God puts such a premium on right behavior that he insists that anyone who approaches him be perfect. Not good, not exemplary, but absolutely and unequivocally perfect! In Matt 5:20, Jesus tells his disciples that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the Pharisees they cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is troubling, since no one came close to those religious elite. It’s as though we were told that heaven is restricted to those that can outsprint Usain Bolt. Most of us wouldn’t bother to lace our track shoes.
But this is the grace of God. Seeing our inability, the eternal Son condescended to become human and live the perfect life. He was the ideal Israelite, the one man who excelled beyond the best. By his death, resurrection, and ascension, he has made satisfaction for sin and amassed an eternal reward. And those who repent and believe are incorporated into his life and become recipients of his accomplishments. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)
“Does God require a morally upright life?” Without exception! “How many have accomplished this?” Only one! I hope you know him, I pray that you will trust him, for if you go it alone you will run a futile race and fail to cross the finish line. But if you trust in Jesus, the worst of us will become as spectacularly accomplished as him, and one-day hear those longed for words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I wish I had said that, and now I have.