gratitude & hoopla: Trying Our Best

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

3.10.05

Trying Our Best

I've heard it a lot lately from some of my brothers in Christ. They've been saying, "God just wants us to try our best. That's all anyone can ask."

It sounds so reasonable, so acceptable, but it's only human wisdom being superimposed on the God of all creation. He is not "anyone." He does not have anyone's standards. To lump God together with anyone is to greatly misperceive Him, which is never a healthy thing. By this means we may make Him comprehensible to our minds, but that's all we've done. In fact, we have only formed a mental-idol in our own image and named it God. We have made Him out to be nothing more than a representation of the best human father we can imagine, but no more than that.

And yet, He is infinitely more than that. Is God satisfied with our best effort at righteousness? On the other hand, is He miffed or unsatisfied with us when we fail to do our best? Is it all about measuring our performance against some supposedly reasonable standard called "the best we can do"? Falling short of this standard, we chide ourselves, imagining that God is unhappy with us, and pledge to do better next time. Or, achieving our lowered standard of holiness, we're quite happy with ourselves and imagine that God is happy with us too. Thereby is our guilt easily swept under the proverbial carpet.

On the one hand, we strain with all our might (we suppose) to live holy lives, because we know that God is holy and despises sin. On the other, failing in our great efforts, but not wanting to suffer the guilt and shame of failure, we imagine God has lowered his standards from absolute righteousness to whatever it is that we define as "the best we can do." How convenient that the standard is up to us!

Somehow, we're missing the Gospel badly. We hear it, I presume, each Sunday morning. We listen to preaching tapes, Christian radio, and watch our Christian TV. We've seen The Passion three or four times, and yet we continue to fail to comprehend the relevance of the cross of Christ to our lives.

People, the good news is NOT that god has lowered His standards. If your best effort was ever good enough, then Christ's heart-rending cry from the cross ("Father, why have you forsaken me?") hangs in the air unanswered. For it surely was not for our sake. After all, we're trying our best. Isn't that all He has a right to ask?

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