11/16/13 Eric 52
The good news of the gospel of grace doesn’t make sense without the bad news of our sin and the judgment we deserve. It’s for this reason that I use God’s law, such as the Ten Commandments, as a mirror to help people see their need for the forgiveness found only in Jesus. But people have baggage, and sometimes that baggage includes religious people from their past who have used that law as a way to control others or make themselves look better in comparison. Today I spoke with Eric, a passerby on the sidewalk while I was out raking leaves, who was convinced that were he to be judged by God he would be “one of the good guys”. I explained how we can’t compare ourselves to other people but that we should use the law as the standard of God’s measurement, and was about to take Eric through some of the commandments individually when he said “And what I really can’t stand is those self-righteous Bible thumpers looking down their nose, judging everyone else”. ….Hmmm, what to say… It’s important that people see how the commandments apply to themselves personally, but I felt it wise to do the next best thing – apply them to myself. By showing how I would be judged by the commandments, I could help Eric judge himself in comparison without feeling like I was looking down my nose at him. He actually felt sorry for me as I did so, telling me I wasn’t so bad, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But just as I could tell about a God whose justice is as hard as nails, I could go on to tell about a God whose love is overwhelming. I’m glad I did so, because Eric confided that he has been suicidal. He needed to hear about God’s love, but it could only make sense in the context of God’s justice.