Today I royally screwed up. I, honest-to-God, screw up most days and in ways I wonder, am I worth anything at all? Am I selling a sham gospel? Or is the gospel good enough for other people but not for me?
I can’t change my patterns of behavior. I can’t change my personal short-comings. I can’t change the dark cloud of sadness and depression that seems to come at me on a regular basis. Because I have tried it all. And here I am. The same failure and screw up I have always been.
But is that really the gospel? Do this thing, say this prayer, and twenty minutes later, bam, done.
I think I’ve shortchanged what the Gospel really is. Jesus said, abide in me. (John 15:4) Trust in God, but also trust in me. (John 14:1) And, I will draw everyone to Myself. (John 12:32)
I read what Jesus actually said and a sense of relief washes over me. I misunderstood the Gospel.
The Gospel is not a magic anti-sin elixir. If it was, I would be right to mutter under my breath, “Failure. Loser. Worthless.” everytime I fall down.
My mistake is that I’ve made the Gospel all about me. My failures. My regrets. My mistakes. My sins. And the Gospel has the power to heal all of those, but that is not what the Gospel is about. The Gospel is all about nothing except Jesus. Jesus is drawing me to him. Everything that draws me away from Jesus, including the shame and regret over my sin, is sin! And it is not the Gospel.
He has washed away our sins. (Titus 3:5) You are sinless – your sins are gone, forgotten. I hesitate to write those words. But that is the plain meaning of what washing away sin means. It seems far too good to be true. But if Jesus has washed my sins away, why can’t I have the faith that He has made me sinless?
Or to look at it another way: Why do I spend so much time beating myself up over my failure? Making promises I can’t keep – vows I don’t mean and shame that cripples me. How I’m going to do it better next time. How I have so much shame over what I’ve done I stop praying and I stop approaching the God of grace because I feel so unworthy.
By your actions, you are unworthy. But by Christ’s actions, you are worthy. That is amazing. It’s almost too good to be true. And instead of dwelling in fear and shame, if I dwelt in the astounding promise that Christ has made me sinless even in my most sinful moment – maybe it would draw me closer to Christ than ever.