It is so easy to strut around as if I have all God’s light to myself. It is too easy to stop my ears to the gasps of others who glimpsed a side of God different to the one I see. Religion, so often, speaks to my desire for certainty. I am frail, timid, naked even and so I knit garments of fundamental belief, drink elixirs of hastily mixed verses and puff my chest out with self-congratulatory pride.
“I have made it,” I think to myself and stand, as it were, at the zenith of faith and wait for God to beam me up to heaven. I could point to my bullet point list of accomplishments – deeds done and sins shunned – as my password at the pearly gates. See what I have done for God, all the delicious sins I have dragged myself away from and all the drab dry church services I have choked down. What of the duties I have executed for Him? Surely I have shown my worthiness of at least a rest-of-the-ground ticket to Paradise!
There is a rapping at the door I have locked to keep out all distraction. I have a heaven to win, I am too busy to stop and have fun. I cannot rest on my laurels, not with all those verses waiting to be mixed into elixirs, formulae of bigoted certainty. I need a new wardrobe of abstractions – my indicators of orthodox worn with pride. I, after all, measure others by how well their beliefs match up with mine before I measure their faux pas against my glorious deeds. I am way too busy for that knock at the door even though there is something vaguely familiar about it.
It’s Jesus! I couldn’t stand that incessant knocking, so I swung the door open but my angry dissipated into a gasp! It’s Jesus! Is it the Second Coming already? I wasn’t finished getting ready. I thought I was but now I feel the panic that overpowers the blaring television speakers when the hoot at the gate reminds you of all the chores you postponed. Why do I feel so naked?
The light of God I thought shone so brightly is just a candle hopelessly expunged in the rush of His panoply. I tremble and faint but His voice pierces the silence. I come to and salivate at the ever burgeoning aroma of pizza. Wait… Jesus brought pizza?!
“Let’s eat!” He smiles. I am not usually excited by pizza but this is a meal with the ruler of creation! His bespoke garments, though simple, trump my haughty rags. I try to serve my elixirs at the table but He politely fights the urge to yawn in colour. I give up trying and I just sit back and enjoy the meal and conversation. He has some tough things to say but He doesn’t crush my spirit.
He wants me to do better, to really conquer. I thought it was so I could win His favour and wend my way into His good books but now I realise I have always been there. I have been fighting to earn something that was already mine. No! Jesus wants me to conquer because He wants me to be the best I can be. I am naked. He wants me in the best clothes. I am blind. He wants me to open my eyes. Sin is beneath me. He wants me to realise that walking away from sin isn’t leaving a delicious feast, it is flushing the toilet. Sin isn’t the problem as much as it is my yearning for it (buried under mounds of good deeds).
As long as I find it delicious, sin will always be a problem for me. I don’t need a touch up, I desperately need an overhaul. No coat of paint can fix an engine knock. I get it now but all that pales into white noise as Jesus’s blurs in my tears. One thought rolls through my mind, snowballing into a song: He is worthy, Jesus is worthy and not me. I have a right to the throne, not because I earned it but because I submit to His training and if I keep at it, I will be strong enough to receive it from Him.
Jesus, take my elixirs and haughty rags before they make me puke too.
“I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne…”
(Revelation 3:21 NET)