Neither Fork In The Road

Posted on November 2, 2012 by

This post was submitted by Sis, who blogs at Passionate Christian Marriage.

Growing up I had two very different grandpas.  One was a devout atheist and we called him Pappy, the other was a very disciplined Christian and we called him Grandpa Jones (fake name).

Pappy would smoke cigarettes by the pack, cuss constantly, and always keep candy in his pockets for us to find.  He would often pick me and my brothers up on Saturday mornings and take us somewhere, usually it was just fishing or to check traps, but sometimes we went to a county fair or a pumpkin patch or someplace cool.  He had tattoos on his arms, ate too much, drank too much, and was always very generous.  We got to watch all the tv we wanted at his house and he eventually bought a pool table and taught us all how to play so we could beat our friends.  I remember going for long drives in his old pick-up truck, windows down, sitting on ragged seats and being surrounded by cigarette smoke; I felt happy when I was with him.  We wore our play clothes to his home because we were going to get dirty anyway, I loved him very much.  Pappy was very loving and generous, it felt comfortable to be around him; but that wasn’t enough.  He was still a sinner and he still deserved death.

We  would visit my Grandpa Jones after church on Sundays and sit down to a formal dinner where kids weren’t allowed to talk.  The adults shared stories, but I mostly felt uncomfortable and was ready to escape to the basement as soon as possible.  I played checkers with Grandpa Jones, played with my cousins, but we weren’t allowed to be loud or run around.  Grandpa Jones taught me how to do push-ups and sit-ups to stay fit and he would give me shiny silver dollars in plastic cases that were so valuable I couldn’t spend them.  He read scripture to us before bed and would say things like, “be proud to be a Jones”, “you can do it, you’re a Jones”.  I had so much pride in that name, it was a little hard to give it up when I got married.  He was very self-disciplined and the money he earned and success he had in life were his fruits.  He still gives me money and is very generous, I love him very much also; but I hated going to his house…I always felt judged and not good enough.  I felt stiff and uncomfortable there with so many expectations piled onto my head.  Grandpa Jones looked very good to the world, he was successful, ambitious and disciplined; everyone would think of him as a good man; but that isn’t enough, he can never do enough works on his own to deserve heaven, he is still a sinner, he misses the mark of perfection and deserves death.

When I’m around Christians who say they are correcting me and pointing out my flaws to help me be more pure so I can draw closer to God; they could care less about me, they don’t even know me; and they are just trying to reinforce some stupid rule that they think should be followed or to feel more self-righteous in their own obedience to the(ir own) law.  I’ve been that Christian before, and I still am sometimes…and I think that kind of self-proclaimed purity stinks.  I don’t want to be that way.

I think sometimes we miss the point of Christianity.  The point ABSOLUTELY IS NOT to be as righteous as possible so that we can win our way into heaven.  The point of Christianity is the same as the lesson taught by the parable of the prodigal sons. That’s right… sons. If your bible puts the heading “parable of the prodigal son” add an “s” to the end. Both sons did what was right in their own eyes and both were wrong and both needed the gracious arms of the father. It just so happens that the sinner son recognized that need and the “good” son didn’t see it.

The point is, on our own, we earn separation from God… no matter how good we try to be- we are not perfect and God demands perfection. He is light and cannot have any darkness near him. So, what are we to do? The only hope- our only hope- is that we might receive the perfect righteousness of another… that our sin might be taken away and that Christ’s complete obedience might be given to us. When we trust Christ alone for our justification (and not our own good works) that is when we shall be justified in God’s eyes (and not just our own). This is what so many Christians-by-name do not profess (by word or deed).

Which point glorifies us and which point glorifies God?   Sometimes I think the atheists understand grace better than Christians.  Now I don’t think holy living is a bad thing: it can bring us blessings, is a light in this dark world, and through faith it is pleasing to God… there is much to be said about holiness, but that’s not what this post is about (and not the initial or main point of life).

First and foremost, it is about Christ and what He has done for us and to us. Once we get that (and continue to remind ourselves over and over and over and over…again), then we need not try to be self-righteous and put others down, nor be perfect so that God will love us. When we place our trust in Christ, we are forgiven completely and finally free to do truly good works.

Posted in: Religion