Today marks the last weekend of my second year at college. I do not mean to sound cliche when I say it feels like it was just yesterday I was starting a new school in a new place, but I cannot help but be astounded at how quickly time has passed. It is incredibly sobering to reflect on all that has taken place over the past nine months and how truly amazing my life is, not of my own work or doing but solely by the providential hand of God. To reflect on all that God has blessed me with truly humbles me as I know I do not deserve any of it.
Perhaps one of my favorite writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together speaks largely to the level of depth and intimacy that is only manageable within the body of Christ. Bonhoeffer writes in talking about the confession of sins to a brother or sister in the faith,
“The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
As I was reading through this book during Christmas break, I was really struggling with several different aspects of my faith, the most difficult to grasp and understand being my own self-worth and how God viewed me. Despite all my reading in the New Testament and constantly seeing that Christ's righteousness is enough to save me, I could not convince myself to whole-heartedly accept it. I could not understand why God would even allow me to fill my lungs with one more breath let alone the sending of His Son to die in my place to rescue me from the just punishment I had earned.
It was too much for me to accept.
But in reading through what Bonhoeffer wrote I was finally able to understand the perspective with which I was viewing my salvation. In a misguided and doomed-to-fail attempt to make myself "good enough," I had declared that I did not believe the sacrifice Jesus paid was enough to save me. I did not believe what He had done on the cross was able to make me righteous. I was viewing my salvation as Bonhoeffer described the psychologist's view of the human heart. In my false belief of achieving the standard of holiness God has set in place, I became the individual that had been deceived by worldly wisdom and practice. In my wandering I strove for unattainable holiness before God even though I knew that was not how Christianity worked. I convinced myself that I was just a sick man, casting off any sense of genuine yearning for the God that wanted to save me. God was not a Father that sought to make me His son.
He had become a paycheck, only signed after the proper amount of righteousness had been sorted, shelved, and sold.
We will never be good enough to meet with God on the same level as if we are a hand-shake away from eternal life. On the spectrum of holiness we do even appear because of our fallen human nature. With each rebellious act against God, we weigh ourselves down with the burden of our sins, increasing the separation between us and God's standard of holiness. It was not until I was reminded of how truly lost and broken I am without God did I begin to understand my complete dependence for Him. Only when I learned that I could no longer rely on myself did I put my faith in God and what His Son had done for me.
I cannot claim to know where you are as you are reading this, but I can say with certainty that no matter the struggle or hardship, there is hope in Christ. We must constantly be reminded of our complete reliance on God, even when He blesses us with joy and purifies us through suffering. While I may never be able to explain or even comprehend for myself how God could possibly love any one of us, I know that His Word is true and His love for us is limitless. What He says of Himself is always true, even when we may not see how it could be.
Do not make the same mistake I made when I tried to squeeze an infinite God into a finite understanding of Him. He is more than we could ever begin to understand but through the Holy Spirit we can begin to know Him. You will never reach the depths of His wisdom and you will never surpass the widths of His love. You will never reach the place when you are "good enough" for God and what many people do not understand is that God does not expect that of us. If He had thought it were possible for us to earn our righteousness there would have been no reason to send His Son to receive His wrath in our place. God will never find us in a place where we are ready for Him. He finds you at the foot of the cross, in all of your brokenness, in all of your weakness, and He saves you. In Him and through Him, we can be made good.