Since I’m a fiction writer, let’s pretend.
You’re rich. Not just comfortably middle class, but within reach of Bill Gates. We’re talking loaded, filthy rich, a billionaire. One day, you get an email notification that you have won a new car, the latest low-end Nissan—a stripped down car with no radio, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, or automatic transmission. Did you receive good news?
But let’s pretend you’re a twenty-year-old college student with mounting loans, and the only way you can get to work from school is public transportation — if the professor lets class out five minutes early, and then you have to make a dash for the bus stop. One day, you get an email notification that you have won a new car, the latest low-end Nissan—-a stripped down car with no radio, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, or automatic transmission. Did you receive good news?
I suspect someone in scenario number two would be ecstatic with such wonderful news, but why? It’s the same news the person in scenario number one received. In all likelihood, that individual would either look at the prize as just one more thing to have to deal with or more probably, as something to hand off to an assistant to dispose of. He might not give the matter a second thought.
Clearly the different reactions are based upon the differing circumstances.
In the spiritual realm, while we all have identical circumstances to deal with, our perception might be that we don’t.
All mankind labors under the weight of our selfish, prideful, self-righteous hearts that want to see us enthroned, not God; that want to see us first, not our neighbor. Our condition leaves us separated from our Creator and at odds with the people around us.
Some of us have learned to mask our disappointment at our isolation and some have learned to numb it by activity or some destructive behavior. Some try to overcome it, thinking it is possible to do enough good things to crawl out of the abyss. None of it works, but we keep trying because we think perhaps we just haven’t found the right key.
On the other hand, some seem to have it all figured out. They are successful, on the way to fulfilling all their dreams, happy in the truest sense of the word. They are the spiritual billionaires.
But the truth is, they are no less dead in their sins, destined for destruction. They just don’t know it. Their perception is, All is well. Their reality is, The wages of sin is death.
If I were to come up to one of these spiritual billionaires and say, God loves you; His grace is available for you; His forgiveness is free—that individual would most likely think I was offering him the equivalent of a cheap car he doesn’t want, a burden he’ll have to get rid of as soon as possible.
It takes thirsty people to want water, hungry people to want bread. It takes lost people to want to be found.
Enter God’s law. Scripture calls it a tutor. Without the law I wouldn’t know that my covetousness or lust or hatred is not OK.
Jesus Himself expanded the Ten Commandments. In fact one of His first public discourses was all about how the Law was not only external but internal—lust was the same as committing adultery, hatred the same as committing murder. In the end He said, Be perfect as My Father is perfect.
When you put it in the terms Jesus did, we all know we aren’t perfect, can’t be perfect. And therefore, that we stand in need of a Savior.
We—all of us—need the good news, but it will only seem good if we know we need it.