2/2/15 Don 25
I’m convinced the greatest challenge to Christianity in the United States is not ISIS, or atheists, or the many cults and false teachers that distort the truths of the Bible, or even the increasing secularization of our culture. I believe the greatest challenge is our trivialization of our sin and God’s holiness that gets in the way of seeing the simple truth that we can’t achieve righteousness – a right relationship with God – by our own efforts. A young man named Don, whom I spoke with while shopping at a Home Depot today, reminded me that this is a truth that hides in plain sight. Don is a sometime attender at another of my church’s locations, new to Christianity and attending church several times a month. The pastor who preaches there is faithful to uphold the Bible rather than church traditions or his own wisdom as the foundation of his sermons. His teaches often on the practical application of the Bible to daily living and relationships, but I’m sure Don has also heard the truth of his sin and condemnation and need for the forgiveness that can be found in Jesus. Nonetheless, when I asked Don why he believes he will go to heaven, his answer focused on his own goodness and good deeds. He knows he “isn’t perfect” because of his sins, but somehow he believes he is good enough. He doesn’t understand the depth of his sin or God’s holiness, and this is preventing him from putting his faith in Jesus rather than in his own good works. I don’t want to undermine Don’s faith in the solid preaching he is hearing, but nonetheless I offered a “friendly reminder” to put his faith in Jesus rather than his own goodness. It may not be popular, but a failure to emphasize or deal with some of these hard truths can fill our churches with false believers who only see Jesus as someone who can improve their life in the here and now rather than save their soul for eternity.