Are you the real deal? When people look at you, do they see someone who’s a good person and is living the way they should, or are you just deceiving yourself and others? Even though some people seem better than others, if you get right down to it, no one’s completely perfect. So how can we know if we are good merely in comparison to those around us, or genuinely so?
“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.” (Romans 3:10 NLT)
I love summer. Here in the Midwest we have these incredible blue wildflowers. I always thought they were cornflowers, but they’re actually chicory; they start blooming around the beginning of July, and you see them all alongthe highways and byways. They say there are no genuinely blue flowers found in nature, but when I look at these, they sure look blue to me! In a vase on my dining room table, or just the way they naturally grow wild interspersed purple clover, they are the bluest of blue flowers. Yet, appearances are deceiving, because just like us, they aren’t true blue.
I normally avoid paraphrases because they aren’t the literal inspired Word of God, but I’m going to quote part of Romans 3 from The Message here, simply because it presents our human natural-born condition quite well:
“So where does that put us?…Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, Don’t know the first thing about living with others. They never give God the time of day. This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God…” (Romans 3:9-20 MSG)
It’s interesting to note, isn’t it, that simply having God’s Word–knowing what it says, whether because you were made to go to church as a child and your parents or teachers told you, or because you’ve been exposed to it somewhere else along life’s path–doesn’t make a bit of difference! It’s not a pretty picture, but the truth is that on our own, none of us is completely good. We may look more genuine or less so, depending on whom are comparing ourselves to, but ultimately none of us is true blue holy. Which brings us to Jesus Christ.
My children like to joke that for me, the answer to pretty much everything is Jesus and He is, because if you carry the conversation out far enough everything circles back to Him. For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36 )
I doubt there is one person alive in the U.S. today who hasn’t heard that Jesus died for our sins, but most don’t get it. If you’ve cheated, molested, murdered, yeah, you’ve got some pretty obvious sins that need dealing with–but the rest of us find it harder to recognize that we even have any sin to be forgiven! We look at the purple flowers–the folks who’ve really messed up–and back at ourselves, and see a person who is trying to do what’s right (usually) and obeying the law (generally speaking) and we look quite good. And herein lies our problem–we cannot look at others to determine our real condition; we have to look at Jesus, because it is only next to the pure white holiness of God that we see our true colors.
No matter how clean and good our lives appears on the surface, we are all born with a core that wants nothing to do with our Creator, Savior and Sustainer God. We want to believe we’re not that bad–good even–and can’t usually even recognize that we aren’t. This is where Jesus comes in–why He is such a big deal. He is the true blue holiness of God. Because He willingly was born a human and was punished in our place, when our heavenly Father looks at those who belong to Him, He no longer sees our sins, only the holiness of Jesus. This is what it means to be “in Christ”–it is believing this, and evidencing it through a changed life of obedience to Him–and it is why Jesus is a big deal.
So, are you the real deal? When people look at you, do they see someone who’s really good, or just someone who’s deceiving yourself and others? As long as you continue to look at yourself to answer this question, you’re not getting it. But when you come to understand that the only hope for any of us is Jesus and commit your destiny to Him in obedience–then you’ve got it!
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
Thank You for doing for us what we could never do for ourselves–for being true blue holy in our place. And just as the pure blue sky covers the purple flowers, cover our sins with Your holiness that when our Father God looks at us He may see You! Help us evidence our faith by obeying You. Amen.