By John Payton
Picture yourself standing before God and him asking you, “Why should I let you in on my blessings whether in this life or in the life to come?” You begin thinking: “Well, I’m a nice person, I am faithful to my spouse, I attend church, I’ve been baptized, oh, and I tithe my income.” Then you read that the prophet Isaiah faced a similar question “How then can we be saved?” And in honesty, he didn’t answer that he was a prophet of the Lord, for he saw that “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Instead he acknowledged his need for the Lord (Isaiah 64).
A rich young man asked Jesus of Nazareth, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by telling him to sell all he had and to give to the poor and to follow him. The young man went away very sad because he relied on his wealth. Those who heard what Jesus said asked a similar question, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.
Before you think Jesus was asking too much, think it through. It wasn’t so much that he was asking him (or us) to give everything he had to the poor—though giving to the poor is important—he was asking him (and he asks us) if he/we would trust him with his/our life. His riches were but a part of his life.
Replace the word “riches” with my job, my health, my family, my mind, my image—anything on which you rely or in which you take pride (and yes, your “righteous acts”). If you surrender your life to his care and leadership, he has it all. Can you trust him?
Years ago an evangelist named Charles Spurgeon wrote: “The first link between my soul and Christ is not my riches but my need.”
This Easter Season reminds us that our greatest need is forgiveness for relying on our own resources and abilities to make life great; for our failures—and yes our sin— not only disobeying God’s laws, but disregarding God’s will in our lives.
God himself—in Jesus of Nazareth—came not only showing us the beauty of true righteousness, but paid the penalty for our unrighteousness by shedding his blood on the cross. What we could not do for ourselves God did for us. God, in Christ, took the penalty of our sin himself that we might be restored to his original purpose for our lives: to glorify God, and to enjoy him and his blessings forever.
Think about that next Friday — Good Friday — and burst out on Easter Sunday in a new life that is impossible with man, but possible with God.
John Payton is pastor of the Nazarene Church of Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-597-2249 or by emailing [email protected].
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.