How absurd it all is I used to think. I used to believe that the Christian faith was the pinnacle of insanity and self-delusion. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” says Paul (1 Cor 18). And there it is: I was perishing.
So what did I believe in then? Maybe it was the – “as-long-as-I’m-not-hurting-anyone-then-I’m-OK” – philosophy. What a great distance there was between where I was then and where I am now. Back then I was incredibly selfish, arrogant and vain. But nobody – or not so many – recognized it. “He’s a good guy,” they used to say.
So I subscribed to the “good guy” gospel. As long as I was good everything would be fine. It was a step in the right direction as before this it was all about trying to satisfy insatiable desires of the eyes, flesh and ego. Still, this “good guy” was a long way from the truth.
I look at the incredible distance between belief and unbelief. Can it be that the two are so far apart? Belief in Jesus basically comes in two flavors. One is that Jesus was a good guy, he helped the less fortunate and we should embrace his example. This is all true.
Then we have the second type of belief — that Jesus is a Savior. That he saves souls.
In my darker days, the idea of a Savior was abhorrent to me because this meant recognizing my sin. Back then I loved my selfishness, arrogance and vanity. I weaved an intricate web to hide from God. I went to great lengths to deny that not only was I headed to hell, but that I was already there. Not hurting anyone? I was inflicting mortal wounds upon myself. When I finally heard the Lord knocking my heart was bleeding profusely.
“Do you want to be made well?” He asked me.
And I answered, “Yes. Yes Lord, make me well.”
So Jesus Christ reached down and pulled me out of the pit and set me on my feet. Looking back, I see how different things were back then. What a great distance – or not?
Even now, I am not the “good guy” that I think I am or want to be. I am not so far from the wretched man of my past. Nastiness still can rear its ugly head in my life, but the difference is now I hate the wrong in my life. In the past I embraced it. I have been made clean and whole but not by any great effort of mine to be a “good guy”.
Instead, I have a free ticket to heaven. Why? Because, like the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, I know I have been forgiven of very, very much. And because of this I can love very much.
The distance between the sinner and the saint is not great. The greatness lies in recognizing the love Jesus pours out for you.