When I was in high school I worked at a department store in order to save up for College. I had the privilege of going to a Christian school from grades 9-12. Though I look back now and see the blessing it was, at the time when I was of weak to very little faith I didn’t see it that way. To my younger self I was in a school full of judgemental peers. I would always dread the Monday morning questions asking what I did on the weekend. Twice a month my job required me to work on Sundays, which I didn’t mind because they were usually the quiet days and I could get quite a bit done without customers asking ridiculous questions (for those that have worked in retail you will know what I mean). To my classmates, working on Sunday was blasphemy and my salvation was at stake if I continue working there. Overtime, I became defensive and I remember making a vow “if this is what Christianity means, then I don’t want any part of it!” In fact, by grade 12 I had been so soured I would ask for to be scheduled every Sunday from 8-4 to avoid church all together.
As Christians we often get known for what we stand against rather than what we stand for. My classmates would often create a sliding scale on what they don’t do to determine how ‘good they were’ or ‘righteous’.
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12
Or maybe you prefer the classic:
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
Let’s for a moment imagine, if you could a dinner plate. Now let’s marinate that plate in sewage. Now place that dish on the table next to your favourite meal. Are you willing to dish up your food onto that plate and eat it? Ohhh it’s got a bit of sewage juice on top you say? Ok let’s just pour what you can off the plate. Is it acceptable to you now? Ok, before your diaphragm, chest muscles and abdomen start retching I’ll get to the point if you haven’t already figured it out. The plate in the sewage is dirty, the plate drained is still dirty and not usable. No matter how you spin it on what you do and don’t do we are all just a pile of dirty dishes. Fortunately Jesus came and became that antibacterial dish soap to clean us up and make us presentable to God.
“In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
This verse addresses our topic perfectly. As followers of Christ (which is the meaning of ‘Christian’) we are told from Jesus to do the exact opposite of my high school classmates. Instead of “don’t” we are to “do”. Jesus calls us to an action of doing good works and it doesn’t stop there. Now, I’ll admit it’s sometimes difficult to do something good and not receive praise for it. This is a challenge I personally fail at on a regular basis. But Jesus didn’t come to create world peace and have a following of ‘good little girls and boys’. World peace will be His accomplishment when he returns, but for now, our good works are to be a response to His sacrifice. Our good works are also to be a reflection of the good He already did for us.
Have you ever cleaned a dish that looked beyond repair? I burnt Kraft Dinner once and the pot was a disaster. We tried everything to revive the pot, until we stumbled across this magical product that erased the black burn marks off the stateless steel. The pot looked good as new and it was a quick small proud moment that I hadn’t completely ruined my wife’s wedding present. Jesus does one better with us. He doesn’t clean us so we are “as good as new”, in fact he purifies us into something better, we get an upgrade to something new and shiny.
But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right; he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrong doing. – 1 John 1:9
Like I wrote earlier we are all a bunch of filthy dishes. It’s time we stop comparing how disgusting we are and let our Savior in on a daily basis to clean us up. Stop being known for what you are against, and start living in a reflective nature to WHO it is you live for.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you – Isaiah 64:6-7a
If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. – Romans 10:9-10