Hard truths, happy realizations
April 15, 2013
by Pastor Douglas Pierce, Lake Jennie Ev. Covenant Church, Dassel

Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? I have been thinking, and I have realized a few things.

One of them is that you are not perfect. Wait, wait, I know it is hard to accept, but for all of the wonderful things about you, and there are many, there are aspects of your character and actions that are not all they should be. You know what they are. In fact, I am willing to acknowledge that you have been trying to do better, But, I have to tell you that you are not there yet.

In fact, I have worse news for you. You are never going to get there. Yes, I know you are trying. But you need to face the fact that you are imperfect. I’m sorry, but you need to come to terms with the reality of your situation. You are a sinner.

Now, don’t get bent out of shape. You don’t need to yell. Yes, I am perfectly aware of my own flaws. Yes, I remember how I acted last week. No, I should not have behaved that way.

Yes, I am well aware of the plank in my eye. I have been working hard to do better. No, I do not think I am any better than you. My point was not to knock you down and lift me up. My point was that we are all imperfect and no amount of effort on either of our parts is going to make us perfect.

So, OK, are you willing to agree with me that we both have our faults and neither of us is perfect? Ok, good. Why did I bring it up? Well because I realized this past week how important it was for me to come to terms with my imperfections.

What made me realize that?

Well, it was Easter. I was in church and we were celebrating how wonderful it was that Christ was risen from the dead, and the pastor was talking about the new life we had in Christ because Christ had conquered death, and we were singing hymns about how Christ died for us, and I was suddenly struck with the realization that Christ did not have to die for me. He did not owe me anything. He did not have to do anything.

I realized that He chose to die for me, and He chose to die for you, not because we are such swell individuals, but because we were imperfect and there was no way we were ever going to manage to save ourselves.

We were, and are still sinners. We did not earn Christ’s sacrifice – it was a gift. It was gift to a world that did not deserve it. We deserved a lump of coal, and we got salvation.

OK, yes, I am an idiot. Yes, this should have been clear to me a long time ago, but that’s my point – it is so easy for you and me to go to church every week and think that we are the good guys, and how much better we are than the folks in the church down the street, and even they are better than all that riff raff who don’t go to church at all. I just realized that I have a tendency to sometimes think I deserve, or have somehow earned the love of God.

Easter reminded me that Christ had to die because we are all sinners and we have all fallen short of the glory of God.And maybe there are times that I need to honestly look at myself and my failings to truly appreciate the enormity of what God has done for me. Not only that, but I think it will help me to be a bit more forgiving of others.

So, I am sorry if I didn’t express myself well. I am sorry if I sounded harsh, but I just wanted to share this with you. Are we friends? Good.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, NIV)