Sometime in their lives most Christians have likely been accused of thinking that they’re better than others. It’s an occupational hazard when you’re an ordinary person trying to live by impossibly high standards. Most the time it’s so not true. We make enough mistakes of our own without having time to worry about other people’s.
We know we fail and we know that religious people since the dawn of time have failed. Some of the activities described in the Bible would make a gossip columnist blush. In ancient times, King David, who wrote songs of worship that we sing to this day, committed adultery and covered up with murder. Most of us aren’t anything like that bad. In fact, we would like to believe that the world is a better place because we’re in it, but we still fail.
How do we know we get it wrong?
We share with Islam and Judaism the belief that God communicated the rules of life through Moses and the prophets. Trouble is, it’s one thing knowing the rules, obeying them is something else. Then Jesus came and added to our woes by teaching that what’s hidden in the depths of our hearts matters to God. Love your neighbour as yourself. That’s easy to say, but have you met my neighbours?!
Something deep inside us wants God to be there for us.
Family, friends, they can be fantastically important but they’re nothing to the relationship we have with God. If that relationship is missing, there’s a hole in our heart that nothing else can fill.
The trouble is our messing up matters.
Relationships tend to have a short life when one half repeatedly hears what the other one wants and then does something different. In our hearts, we know what he wants of us, and we want to live like that, but we just can’t do it.
Oddly, most Christians don’t feel that guilty.
It’s not that we’ve rewritten the rules so we no longer think we’re doing anything wrong. It’s for God to write the rules, not us, and He’s left a record of them in the Bible in case we forget. No, we know very well what we’ve done. Nor is it that we’ve brought God some gifts to make up. There is nothing that we can give God that makes up for what we’ve done.
So why don’t we feel guilty?
It’s because the most extraordinary thing in history happened as Jesus died on a cross. His sacrifice enabled God to forgive us. Sure, there are times when we feel terrible about what we’ve done, but when we truly understand what Jesus did we discover freedom, not guilt. That aching feeling goes and we have the unbelievable privilege of being in relationship with the Almighty God.
Sad to say, we still mess up.
There’s a fridge magnet somewhere that sums it up: it says “Christians aren’t perfect; they are forgiven”. Fortunately, it’s not what we’ve done, but what Jesus has done that matters.