So many people are trying to clean their act up. I listened to a man tonight as he told me, because of his environment, he has a difficult time not becoming angry and even using a few, not so nice, words from time to time. He’s been a jailer for 13yrs. and you can probably imagine what his days are like. He told me of a Bible reading plan that he’s been working through and how he has read Genesis, Exodus and most of the Gospel of Luke. I think he’s starting to see some results in his life, and by that I mean he can tell he’s a little more patient than before but says he still has moments when he blows it. As he spoke I could tell he was in talking mode rather than listening so I figured it was my time to listen.
One thing I kept hearing underneath all of what he was saying was “He” was trying. How many people do you know that are “Trying”? It’s amazing how easy it is to hear when someone doesn’t really know Christ in them. It’s one thing to hear about Jesus Christ and believe he was a good teacher, a good man, a prophet or even that he was the son of God. It is entirely something different to get the revelation that he lives within you and is your life.
I have been in this man’s presence when he was having a bad day. I have been around him when 3 or 4 of us volunteer chaplains gathered around him to pray for him and his health. One thing is for sure he is who he is and what you see is what you get. There’s something to be said for that don’t you think? I mean wouldn’t you rather have someone that was a little rough around the edges instead of someone that is pretending to be what they think you want them to be? I think that is exactly why Jesus was often in the presence of sinners. Obviously he wanted them to be saved, but I think maybe he enjoyed their company instead of the religious leaders because they were just themselves rather than pretending to be something else.
While being a Christian isn’t really about trying to clean our act up most of us do that for a period of time until we wear out and give in. We finally come to the end of what Paul wrote in Romans 7 “The thing I want to do I don’t do and the thing I don’t want to do I keep doing.” Eventually you get to the place where you don’t have anymore trying left and collapse in a heap at the feet of Jesus crying out for him to deliver you. Oh, and that’s when the miracle takes place. That’s when the trying ends and the trusting begins. That’s when you start to realize that Jesus Christ is the only one who can live the Christian life, and the good news is he’s going to live it in and through you!
Finally we can rest in the promise that Jesus has done enough. He has accomplished for us what we never could. In fact the Bible goes as far to say that in Christ we have been made holy, blameless, righteous, justified and whole. We are no longer striving to clean our act up we are learning to stop doubting what Christ has done within us already.
As the conversation with the jailer came to an end while he looked for money to pay for the Chinese takeout that had just arrived we walked down the hall to a room where we shared our testimonies and the gospel with about 30 men and several of them made professions of faith at the close of our time together. Now for some of them they will start the process of trying to clean their act up. While we know they can’t; most people do have to give it a good try for a while until they find themselves in their own Romans 7 experience saying something like “O wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death (cycle of trying and failing)? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…”
Written by Louie