I got to have coffee with one of the wisest people I know this past week.
We were talking, and at one point she said something unintentionally profound. “The message of the Gospel is, ‘you suck, but Jesus loves you.'”
Let that sink in.
I really suck.
I suck so much that I’m reduced to nothing but my suckiness.
I say that slightly tongue-in-cheek, but at its core, it’s true. I’m kind of the worst.
But there’s a kind of beauty in that. I’ll get to that. But first, how awful I am:
I’ve done a lot of things I never should have. I like to think I’m really not “that bad,” but the truth is, I 100% totally am. I’ve lied, I’ve cheated. I’ve been proud. I’ve been mean. I’ve wasted opportunities and missed chances. I’ve hurt people. I’ve held grudges. I haven’t loved. I’ve done bad things on purpose. Connivingly.
It’s humbling to think that all sins are the same in the eyes of the Lord. I may have never committed a crime, I may just be thoughtless, but I am no better than a murderer. In fact, my self-righteousness might make it worse.
If I believe for one second that my puny wretched self could stand up to His perfection and justice, maybe that’s the worst thing I could do. If I am so proud to think that I’m owed something by the God of the universe, there’s a problem.
I am a sinner. I am a dirty, filthy sinner.
And the wages of sin is death.
God is perfect. He can’t, within His perfection, be in the presence of any sort of imperfection. He’s too good.
There is absolutely no reason why I should be alive right now. I have no merit whatsoever. I can’t do anything for myself. I can’t defend myself against my failures and shortcomings and sins. I will keep making the same mistakes over and over again and promising to do better and failing. I will beg for forgiveness just to abuse it and take advantage of grace.
I am a tiny terrible speck in a world full of them.
And yet, Jesus loves me.
How is it that I can be loved so much that a perfect man, who is God, can accept death for my sake?
And he didn’t even care if I would thank him for it. I wasn’t going to exist for thousands of years. But he died. For me.
Crucifixion is brutal. The beating. The humiliation. You are nailed to a piece of wood. Nailed. Metal spikes driven through your body. And then you hang there. You don’t die immediately. It’s slow. It’s excruciatingly painful.
Jesus took it willingly so I don’t have to. Because he loves me.
And then he rose again to prove that he was above death and now I could be too. Because I’m worth it. He demonstrated that death had no hold on him. The result of that, the fact that I can have eternal life, and everything that the resurrection entails, blows my mind.
It’s crazy. My little tiny finite and fickle mind can’t understand it. My sense of justice tells me that I deserve to die and honestly, I don’t understand why Jesus died and how he resurrected. My love runs out.
I don’t deserve it. I can’t process it. The grace that was poured out unconditionally is far greater than I could ever comprehend.
It is in light of my brokenness that I realize my desperate need for the cross. I’m so weak and pathetic. I can do nothing apart from Christ.
It’s His grace and mercy–the fact that He literally died–that compels me to love him. Think about how messed up you are and how loving He is. All you can do is love Him. And you can never love Him enough.
My life should have no other purpose but to glorify him. If I internalize what He did for me, I should want nothing else. My weakness and failure is only a vehicle for his strength and perfection. My life, all of it, should scream the goodness and grace of my savior. Anything less would be under appreciating the scale of the sacrifice.
I am so loved more than I could ever understand.
Jesus died for me, in all of my sin and shame and ugliness.
How could I ever not love him and live like it?
I don’t know how to express the extreme emotion I have when I think about this. I’ve tried and tried to find the right words to write this. I don’t think I’ve written this post well. I consider myself a writer to a point, but with this, words fail. I don’t know how to describe the beauty and love and reverence. Or the overwhelming gratefulness and humility.
I don’t want to write this as anything more than an honest explanation of the deep conviction I’ve had. How I’ve reached a point I can’t fathom not loving Jesus because I’ve realized my deep need for Him.
I won’t always live like this. I’ll do something stupid like always. Like a human.
But then I’ll remember that I am saved. And then fall madly in love with Jesus because of what he’s done for me and how he loves me.