I remember a story, whether someone told it to me or I lived it I do not know. But a pastor spoke from the pulpit and asked the congregation to raise their hand if they had sinned that morning. The result, as you would expect, was that hands were raised throughout the sanctuary. But somewhere the story that came out of it was one of the people who rose their hand did so not because they could think of a sin from that morning, but because it was expected. And I have come to the conclusion, that though the pastor wanted to remind everyone that we are all sinners, it doesn't really matter.
See, here's the thing. "Sinner" is a church-y term. So many people don't even think twice about it outside of the church walls. Some simply don't care. And some think there is no way they will be anything else, so why even try. It seems to have added this level of "holier than" somehow, when I know it was meant to bring everyone on the same playing field.
But we don't really think we are. Listen to the conversations. Look at Facebook. We all have a level of sins which we think are better or worse, and so we do look down on some people, or think others are more inspirational. Mother Teresa? Billy Graham? Missionaries out in the field? Yes, we think some are better than others. Like the person in the story above, sometimes we don't even categorize ourselves in the sinner group. But the truth is, all that we do makes no difference.
Nothing Mother Teresa did got her into heaven. Nothing Billy Graham has said were magic words for his entry. Missionaries do not get to skip ahead in the line. You see, even our best efforts at living for God are all for naught. Not one thing we do is worthy of being loved and accepted by God. Our lives will never measure up to His holiness and worthiness. I think it's hard for us humans to fully grasp, but He is that much Awesome that even our best attempts fall far short.
And yet. But God. Still.
He loves us so much that right where we are in our impossible situation of no hope, He shines His light and gives us more than we can hope for or imagine. He gave us this gift of salvation, gift of redemption, gift of purification, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So, you had a great day, gave generously, loved deeply, and prayed fervently? Be thankful for the day, the Grace of God which made it possible, and wake up tomorrow ready to battle for that day knowing that all your strength comes from God.
So, you had a day where you insulted someone, lied behind their back, and killed with your hatred? Be thankful for the day, the Grace of God which will help you through, and wake up tomorrow ready to battle for that day knowing that all your strength comes from God.
You woke up remembering all your sins as they weigh heavy? You woke up feeling the sun shining down on you with no guilt or shame? Either way, we are the same. Either way, we need God.
We aren't that different. Our sins our different, and our best actions/words don't give us an advantage. We are called to love one another, and remind one another that we are loved by God. It's hard sometimes. I'm not saying it's not hard. But it's also easy. Easier than we make it.
Drop the scales. Take a deep breath. And remember, but for the gift of God none of us would have salvation. But for the gift of God. we would all be left to our own devises. But for the gift of God.