For more help use this Bible Study method
Words to Live By?
by Katie Borden
Do you ever wonder what the world would be like if we all just collectively decided to stop trying to “prove” ourselves?
It’s graduation season, and a lot of the high school and college graduates we know and love are going to be inundated with the perennial inspirational messages that such a season brings with it, if they haven’t been already. “Reach for the stars!” “You can do anything you set your mind to!” “The world is yours for the taking!” “We expect great things out of you!”
Some of these messages mean well, and I am not interested in chastising anyone who has uttered these phrases or written them on the inside of a graduation card (I’ve done both of those things myself!), but in light of today’s Bible passage, I wonder if we might reflect on how phrases like these might have unintentionally formed us in ways that don’t resonate with the Gospel message.
No one can do it all. Even with a smartphone and access to the seemingly-infinite amount of information available on The Internet, we are still humans, finite and limited in both ability and capacity. Yet in our society, we like to think that we are in charge, that we are in control, and that we are capable. I think we actually believe that there are no problems that can’t be solved if only we would just, in the oft-quoted words of my friend Brodie Taphorn, “try a little harder to do a little better.” I don’t think we like hearing the words of Romans 3:23, that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, because somewhere inside of us (or at least inside of me), there is a desire to be our own god.
But we are not God.
And when we pump the brakes for a moment, we can recognize what a sweet gift that truth is in a world where there is no longer any room for rest or regret or failure.
The truth is that God knows our limits. God knows our sin. God knows that God is God and we are not. And the truth also is that God loves us. We can rest in the arms of our loving Father, who welcomes us to himself in Jesus’ name. And then he frees us to live powered by that love, no longer by the drive to prove ourselves worthy of love and acceptance, or by the fear that we will be exposed for our unworthiness. We already are considered worthy because of Jesus.
Which means… it’s okay to admit it when we screw up or get it wrong or epically flop and fail. Our faith community’s practice of weekly confession and forgiveness has been such a gift to me. It has taught me that I can regularly admit my screw-ups, and my failures, and my sin, and I am not forever damned nor doomed because of it. In fact, it is healing both to me and to the people whom I have wounded when I confess that I’ve gotten it wrong. What a gift that is.
Thanks be to God for his unfathomable love. Thanks be to God for the freedom to admit failure, because we are already justified in Christ. And thanks be to God for the forgiveness, grace, and power to live in his love by his Spirit.
That, friends, changes the world.
Spend some time in confession today... perhaps God is calling you to admit your humanity and finitude before him. Perhaps there is a sin gnawing at your insides that he wants you to bring before him today. Whatever God is calling you to bring to him, remember that you are forgiven in Jesus' name--and live free, dear friends.