I used to think that essentially, I was a “good person.” I kept relatively well together, I volunteered, I had goals, didn’t drink or smoke or do drugs, my language was decent, I didn’t steal or murder…. You get the idea.
So, why is being “good” never good enough? In the years since my conversion, God has revealed that all of my good morals, good actions, and good intentions will never secure me a place in heaven.
There came a day that the gospel was presented to me. On that day, God opened my ears and heart to hear His message with a new understanding. God showed me that nothing I could ever do would secure a place for me in heaven. No amount of bible study, prayer, or reading of spiritual books would ever bring me into a precious relationship with our heavenly Father. Baptism and confirmation couldn’t do it. Going to church throughout my life couldn’t do it. Giving money and volunteering couldn’t do it either. I needed a rescuer.
Isaiah 64:6 says:
But we all are like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
The only thing that could make me right with God was surrendering. I needed to surrender my desires, my plans, my reputation for being good… my very life. I needed to turn away from my desire for perfection, approval and control and place my trust and faith in the crucified Savior Jesus. He is the rescuer that God has sent into our world to rescue not just me from sin and hell, but anyone who repents and believes.
God called me to Himself at a church camp named Lake Louise when I was 16 years old. I remember being overwhelmed by the realization that Christ died on a cross to pay for my sins. Even though I had this reputation for being “good,” I knew that the only One that was truly Good was Christ. He was Good and he died. I was not good, I deserved hell, and here I was faced with the reality of what my sin had cost. I knew that I did not deserve the blood that was spilled for me. I knew that I did not deserve the life that I was living.
But at that cross, I also knew that I was forgiven. I knew that Christ had paid my debt in full. I knew that I was His child- bought and paid for, forgiven and loved.
Jesus gave His life so that I could live. Twenty years ago, at the foot of a wooden cross next to a lake I decided to give my life to Him. To live for His glory rather than my own.
God, in His abundant grace, has shown me that there is nothing good in me apart from Him. Everything even remotely good is because of Christ’s death on a cross. His sacrifice paid for my sins. I was born a sinner, separated from God.
Today, I am a new creation. I still struggle with perfectionism and false labels. But I know who I really am. I am a sinner saved by amazing grace. Beautiful, undeserved, merciful grace. Romans 4:7-8 says:
Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.
At Christmas, we don’t typically go around saying “Jesus is the reason for the season!” We also don’t usually have a birthday party for Jesus. Instead I give thanks for the rescuer that was sent on my behalf. The one who had the most humble beginnings and yet changed the world. We try to teach our kids that we give gifts because He was the greatest gift the world would ever receive. We give because we are grateful. We give because we are loved beyond belief and reason.
Because of Him, we can face the truth about ourselves and declare with confidence:
You’re more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe. You’re more loved and welcomed than you ever dared hope. – Elyse Fitzpatrick.
That, my friends is where we see the true magic of Christmas.