Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jesus And The Lowest Common Denominator

There was never a time when Jesus settled for less than best. He loved those who were less than good His whole life on this earth. He mixed with them, touched them, ate with them, was identified with them, and He was their friend. But, He never made peace with their sin, nor did He ever allow them to make peace with their sin or settle for less than His life-giving standard for life. He loved people without ever lowering the bar.

To the healed man who had been lame for 38 years, He said, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you." To the woman caught in adultery and delivered by Jesus from a murderous crowd, He said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

There are several reasons we lower God's standards. First, we lower them for ourselves. We believe we are unable to ever reach the bar set by God, so we set it lower; within our grasp, not within His. Then, we do this for others. We know we have failed, and we don't want to become one of those condemning, hateful, prideful Christians. So, we make the universal excuse, "Well, no one is perfect," and then we accept that as our new standard.

That, you see, is the danger. Setting the bar low because of our fallenness is not an admission of humility, or a recognition of human frailty. It is an admission that we do not want to be like Christ. We do not want to be holy as He is holy. We do not want to struggle against our human condition. We want to make peace with it. We do not want to learn how to love the sinner, while hating their sin, including our own sin. And, then we just live common, ordinary lives. My grandmother used to call this kind of living vulgar. Vulgar, by the way, means ordinary.

We must not settle. We must find peace within the will of God, because there is no real peace with God outside of His will. We must learn, and mature so that we find ourselves constantly reaching upward for His glory. It is not an easy life to live, but no life worth living is ever easy.