But here is the deal. Being a follower of Jesus is not about what sins, errors and rotten things I have not done. It is not about how often I go to church or how often I serve in programs to minister to folks in need of clothing or food, in jail or ill. It is not about how many Bible verses I memorize or how much money I contribute.
It is about my relationship to God. And when I was growing up I would have not even have had the smallest understanding of what that meant. I always feel a little sorry for young pastors because, fresh from good families and conservative colleges they often struggle to preach sermons that have much meat. I suspect it is because many are like I was at their ages, at least a little proud of my "relationship with God."
But it was as I fell on my knees, on my face, on my keester, rolled down hills, fell from the high place I had perceived as my right, that I began to understand that I needed redemption. This was when I began to really pay attention to God, rather than be complacent about Him being on my team. Ah ha, that was the problem, the team was my team with my ideas and my goals. When I started to fall in love with God, when I began to give God the same attention and commitment that I had given my human relationships, goals and plans, then I began learning about the God who restores us.
You see, whether separation from God is "a little arrogance" or a major, public plunge into the "big" sins, it is still separation. I suppose this is why Christ told this parable in Luke 7:41-43: Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
So, unlike the World, Christ assures us that those of us whose sins have left us with no illusions about our need for redemption are actually blessed because we have a truer and deeper understanding about the value of our gift of restoration.
Jehovah-mikaddesh, thank You for Your ability and willingness to restore our relationship with You, not by our puny efforts to be better that we are, or to be, God forbid, better than the person next to us, but because it is Your nature as You have revealed Yourself to us. You take my breath away with Your love for me. AMEN