What comes to your mind when you think of a follower of Jesus? Are they "good" people who never sin or put people down? If so, I'm out. BUT that's not how it works. A Christian isn't a perfect person who is always polite and loving. In fact, a follower of Jesus recognizes they simply aren't good enough to live up to the high standard of living that God desires. I am going to tell of two encounters within this short blog. They are both people who have had problems with understanding how a sinner could ever be good enough in living the life God wants.
Just last week, I heard someone say words similar to these: "I believe in God, but I am not good enough at living for God."
This one occurs within the gospel of Luke. In chapter 18, it says this:
"Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: 'Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?'
'Why do you call me good?' Jesus asked him. 'Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments:
-You must not commit adultery.
-You must not murder.
-You must not steal.
-You must not testify falsely.
-Honor your father and mother'
The man replied, 'I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young.'
When Jesus heard his answer, he said, 'There is still one thing you haven't done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me'" (Luke 18:18-22 NLT).
Did you notice how Jesus went through that checklist? The man passed...almost. I believe it is very important for us to realize how this man, despite a few checkmarks, wasn't good enough. In the New King James Version, Jesus' reply to the man's obedience says this: “You still lack one thing...” (Luke 18:22 NKJV). Or perhaps in your life it's multiple things, multiple weaknesses that keep you from being the "good" boy or girl that Christianity requires...right? Actually, it doesn't. Let's look more at this Bible story:
"But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. When Jesus saw this, he said, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God! '"(Luke 18:23-25 NLT)
So the man realized that the enormous weakness he had wasn't going to be easy to overcome. Perhaps his sadness came from the fact of not being good enough unless... But wait! There is more to the story. In fact, some of the people around Jesus began to wonder how a man like that is ever going to be able to win against such a strong weakness. Let's return to the Bible story at verse 26:
"Those who heard this said, 'Then who in the world can be saved?'
He [Jesus] replied, 'What is impossible for people is possible with God’ (Luke 18:26-27 NLT).
As human beings, it is impossible to be good enough. Romans 3:23 says, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." It doesn't matter if it's from the life of a man who lived during the time of Jesus or just an ordinary person today. Two encounters...two "I am not good enough’s."
But Jesus didn't stop there. He said that the things impossible to man is possible to God! And in 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul tells of these words from the Lord, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” This is such an important piece to the puzzle. So does this mean God makes us good enough?
Well, it began about 2,000 years ago on a hill. It was there that a man named Jesus took upon himself the cross, so we wouldn't have to. Because we aren't able to be good enough, Jesus made us a way. In John 17:19, Jesus says, "And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth." Jesus made a way for us to inherit eternal life. If you remember, this is what the rich man from Luke 18 asked Jesus about, only to realize that his own strength wasn't good enough. Indeed it wasn't, and neither is mine or yours. But one thing is for sure: Jesus Is Enough.
So the next time you don't feel like the "good" person God desires of you, take heart and remember that none of us is good enough. Only Jesus is. It is only because of him that any person can make it into heaven. The next time you see a Christian, I challenge you to consider a few things:
1) They aren't good enough for heaven. They are unworthy of being associated with Jesus, but they can because Jesus died for them and then rose to life from death. Because of this, he made another way to God for anyone who desires.
2) The good actions aren't something you have to have before becoming a Christian. In fact, following Jesus requires imperfect people so God, through the sacrifice of his son, can make you right in his sight.
3) Christians aren't perfect. They make mistakes. Jesus didn't make people good enough in and of themselves; instead, he is enough! And those who follow him should seek him continuously.
4) He is good enough for you! No matter how hard you try, there will always be something you lack. That is why you need to quit focusing on how good you are and realize Jesus is good enough. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, Jesus is enough for you!