Saturday, November 15, 2008

Daily Digest #179

God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. —Revelation 21:3-4

Allow me to share this old entry from the Purpose Driven Life online -- a testimony of understanding and appreciating God's grace and mercy.

December 28, 2004

A reader who e-mailed me her testimony kindly consented to let me use it in a devotional. I can't help but think there's something here for all of us to reflect on.

If there is any such thing as a "good" Christian, I was one—once. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age seven, and spent all of my childhood and early adult life immersed in the "Christian" lifestyle. I attended church faithfully, served in the ministry, said and did all the "right" things and stayed well away from all the "wrong" things.

I had it so "together," in fact, that I felt a little smug as I observed all the people who didn't. I made a big deal about how I didn't drink because I was a Christian, how I didn't smoke because I was a Christian, how I basically didn't do anything because I was a Christian. Each time I'd share my "track record" (thinly disguised as a testimony), I'd feel like a shining example of a life lived for God.The problem with not giving mercy to others is that you don't get any, either. When you think in terms of earning the love of the God of the universe, nothing is ever enough. This, of course, was God's point in giving us the law: so we'd know we couldn't do it. So we'd know we needed a Savior.

It didn't happen all at once, but gradually I realized that this "good girl" had completely missed the point. In my quest to please God, I'd taken credit for my own salvation. I'd become the very definition of self-righteousness. I'd avoided the most "visible" sins while harboring an abundance of secret ones in my heart and private life. I needed grace (undeserved, unearned favor). I needed a way to measure up. I needed a Savior, and it wasn't me.

Having ultimately realized that even though I'm "saved," I'm no more "good" than anybody else; I've stopped being mad at the world and started identifying with it. I know my own faults too well: I judge and criticize. I gossip. I yell at my kids. I overspend. I think unholy thoughts. I overeat. I ignore God when I need Him most. Honestly, sometimes I'm just grateful that He keeps me around!

I wonder what would happen if church became a transparent place where we openly shared our failures and deepest needs with each other. If we built fewer walls to insulate us from the bad stuff "out there" and built bridges to the "out there" instead.

I wonder what would happen if we realized that the one thing the whole universe has in common ("good Christians" included) is our desperate need for Jesus.

John Fischer is the Senior Writer for Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotionals. He resides in Southern California with his wife and son. John is also a published author and songwriter.

For this, let us pray. May we truly understand and appreciate everything God has done for us, and grow a humble servant's heart. May we never fail to count our blessings. And may we prepare ourselves for His coming. Pray always.

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