I would like to think that I am generally a decent person and that I don’t rub most people the wrong way. In fact, I think that is a fairly safe self assessment. Does that make me good? Maybe, but I think the more appropriate word is “nice.” I am a nice guy. Sometimes I foul up. I have committed more than my share of errors, but I keep trying to improve.
Then I read scripture, particularly the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans:
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26
Okay, know that this is portion of a letter and that it may read as nonsense to some. Maybe you have heard that one phrase “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” in a sermon or someone shared it with you one time. That one statement tells me that no matter how good I think I am or how hard I try to work for justice, peace, and harmony I don’t meet the mark. I fail on my own.
Here is the kicker…the way that this was written it was not intended for us to fixate on that one part and then spin out of control with how unfair that is and begin to lose focus by asking questions like “what kind of sick God would do that?” That statement about being unable to accomplish unity with divine harmony by our own power and effort is part of the whole statement that points out that God took care of it for our benefit. We are redeemed through Jesus, God’s gift to all. The only thing that is asked is that we have faith.
I think of faith as “Do you believe this to be true or not?” A person that walks through this life with the understanding that God did it all for us moves with freedom of the soul that is impossible to achieve otherwise. They know in their hearts, minds, spirit that God has poured out God’s compassion on us and we may now love one another in a divinely inspired and unselfish way.
Can you imagine entering into a relationship or friendship with someone without wondering how best to protect your heart or wondering whether you can really trust them? In Christ it is possible. In Christ it is real. God provides for that empty longing, that unfulfilled desire, and fills it with God’s presence. We can all be restored to Love.