Am I enough, for God?
Culture will respond with an enthusiastic “yes!”. But the real answer is no, and that is really good news.
No, I am not strong enough for God. God is all-powerful yes, and humans are not. But, even with our limitations, we are to spend what little strength we do have to serve others. Jesus, being fully God and fully man, showed just how high God’s bar is. Through his life, he submitted his strength and energy to God and poured them out in service to others. The Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Word made flesh, the King of Glory spent all of his strength, every day, to heal, teach, and lead a bunch of nobodies: widows, orphans, outcasts, religious dropouts. In comparison, even when I am strong, I spend that little strength on trivial things for myself.
I am not good enough for God. God’s standard is perfection, and nothing short of it. The Bible makes this abundantly clear. It also says that God has written this standard on our hearts. Translation: We all have a conscience that alerts us, like a dashboard light, when we have done something wrong.
We see evidence of the human conscience in the common morality engrained in the laws and norms of all cultures. For example, almost all cultures recognize that murder is wrong. But morality between cultures is not in complete agreement. That’s because we, individually and societally, cover the dashboard light. We can either respond to our conscience by turning away from the action in question or we can numb ourselves to the noise of our conscience and keep going about our business. And all of us have chosen to block the noise of our conscience to one degree or another.
How do we do this? One strategy is to metaphorically “look the other way” when our conscience accuses us. We pretend to be ignorant of the real people that are hurt when we, for example, look at pornography. Another strategy is to play religion; to get really involved in religious activity and hope that it will make God happy, or at least silence our guilt-ridden consciences. This strategy can even be used with God out of the picture. Just find a cultural “tribe” to belong to and get busy recycling, volunteering at your local dog shelter, and advocating for political policies on social media. Another strategy is to play comparison games; to compare ourself to someone who’s made a bigger mess of life, and pat ourself on the back. There are many more strategies, but they all have the same goal: To convince ourselves that we really are good enough.
Well, we aren’t. God will judge not just our outward actions, but also our thoughts and motivations. Doing an externally good thing for a selfish motive is sin. God doesn’t grade on a curve. By his judgement, we are all guilty. All of our ignorance, blaming, justifying, religion, and comparison are attempts to lower the bar; an attempt to redefine God’s grading scale.
No, I am not strong enough or good enough for God. You aren’t either. The good news of Christianity is that there was one man who was good, absolutely good: Jesus. Two thousand years ago, he was born into our world. He lived the perfect life that I was supposed to live. He never did wrong. He never “looked the other way”. He didn’t play religious games. He obeyed God in every action, thought, and motivation. He was faithful in every area that we have failed in. He perfectly loved every person he came into contact with.
But his life ended abruptly. At the age of around 33, he was brutally executed on a Roman cross, condemned by the very people that he came to love. But the agony of the cross is much worse than just an execution. While he hung on the cross, Jesus was enduring the wrath of God for sin; all of God’s anger for all of OUR sin, a billion lifetimes of hell, more than that. Jesus came to earth for this very purpose. He spent his whole life focused on the cross. He went to that agony willingly. Why? Because he knew it was the only way.
The only way that humanity would ever have a chance of spending eternity in God’s presence was if Jesus came and lived a perfect life on our behalf and endured the eternity of hell that I deserve. How did Jesus do it? Jesus was able to endure the Father’s wrath because he is God.
No, I am not enough, but Jesus is. Praise God! All we have to do is see Jesus for who he is and follow him. That’s called faith. And when we have faith, God forgives us. When he looks at me, he doesn’t see my messy failures, he sees Jesus' perfection. My debt is paid. Praise God that I will never experience God’s anger for my sin, not because I’m good enough, but because Jesus is.