BY CHAD BIRD
Let's face it, Christianity is not for everyone.
If you've made such huge strides in holiness that you deem grace a crutch for those still handicapped by sin, if you detect the faint applause of angels clapping their wings at your obedience, if you've led such an exemplary life that you've landed a spot on heaven's honor roll, then you’ll feel like you’re slumming in Christianity.
Jesus calls poor, miserable sinners, not those who sport homemade halos.
If you’ve clawed, rung by rung, up the ladder of life. And if you now look down your nose on the masses of good-for-nothings who’ll never be your peers, then you’ll have no use for Christianity.
Jesus is the God of failures who bled between lawbreakers.
If you’re strutting around with a trophy wife on your arm, chest puffed out as you eye the envy of your inferiors, and ever on the prowl for the next conquest in business or bed or boardroom, then Christianity is way below you.
The God who kisses the loser in the gutter will only disgust your elevated sensitivities.
If you’ve walled yourself in so you don’t have to rub shoulders with people that could use a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a handout now and then, a listening ear, a whispered prayer, then Christianity will be a turnoff.
The God who calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves will seem hopelessly out of touch with your insulated life of self-sufficiency.
If you smile at the man in the mirror because by not smoking and drinking and womanizing and gambling and swearing, you’ve built up a moral bank account so fat with cash you could open a pawn shop of piety and lend out your righteousness to others, then you’ll be scandalized at the Father who sprints like a madman to throw his arms around the neck of the returning prodigal.
Yes, Christianity is not for everyone.
But if, rich or poor, you realize that your moral bank account is penniless, that you have no righteous riches to fill the wallets of others, much less God, then let me tell you about the God who, though he was rich, for your sake became poor, that he might enrich you with golden blood minted in divinity’s veins.
If your life is one screw-up after another, if your closets are so packed with skeletons that you’ve had to rent space at a storage facility for the overflow, if you’ve served time for your crimes, if you’re afraid the ceiling will collapse if you darken the doors of a church, then let me tell you about a Savior who went out of his way to hang with society’s pariahs so as to earn the nickname “friend of sinners.”
If you’re at the end of your rope, if the dark walls are closing in, if you’ve walked onto that bridge ten times with the goal of making a final dive into the black waters, then let me tell you about the God who knows you as one important and precious to him. He has a crazy, wild love for you.
He smiled at death and said, “Take me,” in order that he might take you in his arms, make you alive, and love you back into hope again.
If you’re lost, hurt, guilty, trapped, and can’t seem to do a thing about it; if you’re basically happy with life but still feel a biting hunger within you that no earthly delight can satisfy; if you’re bored with your existence and keep thinking that there must be something else to life; if you’re straight or gay, divorced or married, addicted or clean, young or old; then Christianity is for you.
Christianity is Jesus, the God of flesh and blood, who is looking at you even as you read these words. He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I forgave you before you even knew you needed forgiveness; died for you even before you were born; rose for you even before you knew you were dead and needed my life. I am your God—all yours— and you are my child—all mine.
That’s Christianity. It’s all gift, and that gift is Christ for you.
Chad is an author and speaker who's devoted to honest Christianity that addresses the raw realities of life with the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Chad has served as a pastor and assistant professor of OT theology, contributed hymns to the Lutheran Service Book, and cohosts the podcast “Forty Minutes in the OT.” He holds Master's degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College. In addition to writing the books, Christ Alone and The Infant Priest, he has contributed articles to Modern Reformation, The Federalist, Concordia Pulpit Resources, and other journals. His new book with Eerdmans, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, is now available for pre-order at Amazon. His writings and other resources can be found at his website, chadbird.com. Chad and his wife, Stacy, enjoy life together in the Texas Hill Country.