Mark 2:17 “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

     Do you think of yourself as spiritually sick? 

     My son and I were invited to speak to a group of Christian men a few years ago.  My son spoke of his years of drug addiction and how he came to living on the streets.  He was very honest about the things he did to support his drug habit and the squalor he lived in.  I spoke of my failure as a father and how bitter with disappointment I had become with my son.  Both of us were far from God during this terrible time in our lives.  Jesus rescued both of us! 

     Afterwards a man came to me and said;  “Great talk, until I heard you two I never realized how very depraved human beings can get!”  This took me back a bit but then I realized that he was correct in his estimation of me.  I was depraved and I am depraved; Jesus covers me daily, every day; “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Romans 4:7)  But I wondered as this gentleman walked away shaking his head, what view he had of his own spiritual condition.

     If you think that you’re ‘OK’ then you are adopting a very ‘unBiblical’ view of yourself.  Paul wrote;  “There is none righteous, no, not one … ” (Romans 3:10)  and “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.|” (Romans 3:23)  Paul described his own spiritual condition as; “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)  The prophet Jeremiah portrayed our hearts in the following way: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)  Paul described our condition and his when he said; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)  

     If we harbor the hidden attitude that ‘we’re OK and Jesus just makes us better’ then we tend to self-righteousness and block the many blessings that His grace can pour out on us.  Dana Chau writes: “In reality, there are two kinds of people in this world, those who know they are imperfect and those who don’t know they are imperfect. When we stop defending ourselves, we can be less self-righteous. Laughter can replace uptightness. Acceptance can replace blame. Grace can replace guilt.”  Sadly, we in the church can fall into the same trap the Pharisees were caught in;  “There was some irony in Jesus’ words when He said to the scribes and Pharisees, ‘I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ The implication was that these religious leaders themselves needed to repent of their sin. They were the sickest of the sick, all the while thinking they had no need of a physician.”  (R. C. Sproul)

     Today, my son and I are close friends.  Once we had nothing to say to one another.  Before, I couldn’t see my son’s worth as a human being because I was blinded by my own bitter, angry judgements of him.  He was an addict. And I was not.   He was sick, physically and morally. And I was not.  I was Good.  He was Bad.  Steeped in self-righteousness I felt no need for His grace for myself (I wasn’t bad) so why should my son be given any grace.  I believed my own lie that he could pull himself up by his own bootstraps and ‘fly right’ just like his tough old man did!

     I realize now that I never really lived up to my part in being an attentive, engaged father.  I realize now that my son paid a price for my failure.   I realize now that being ‘better’ than others is a form of hypocrisy that kills relationship.  Further, this form of hypocrisy robs those afflicted with it of any power of the Gospel to work in their life.  My hypocrisy blinded me to His love for others – blinded me to His love for my son – blinded me to His love for me!  My sin of judging created a fence not only between me and my son but also between me and His love for me.  Fortunately it was my fence and not His!   God extended His mercy and broke down this fence.

     Awareness of my own depravity makes me keenly aware of my desperate need for His grace in my life on a daily basis. I struggle with pride and arrogance every day.  I struggle with thinking I’m ‘better’ than others every day.  Paradoxically, deep inside, in my wounds I struggle with feelings of insecurity and worthlessness as well.   If I need His grace every day so does my son, so does my family, so do my friends and so do you.  If His mercy is there for me; it is there for you.  Jesus told the Pharisees and he told me; “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)

Thank you, Jesus!