For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. Romans 3:20a (NLT)
It’s been a tough year for my teams. Last January my favorite team, the Vikings tragically missed going to the Super Bowl (once again). Then the boys of summer let me down as the Cubbies fells far short of expectation and finished the season in disappointing fashion. Even the local boys, the I-Cubs, missed the post season when they lost the last game of their season. [sigh]
As a kid, I used to think that my behavior influenced whether my team won or lost. If I was a good kid and made God happy, then maybe God would let the Vikings win on Sunday. One little trip up on my part and a victory was in jeopardy. I was pretty sure three of the Vikings four Super Bowl losses were my fault.
Along the journey, I’ve come to recognize two great lies that trip people up:
- God could never forgive me for all the bad things I’ve done.
- If I do enough “good” to balance out all the “bad” I’ve done, perhaps I can tip the scales in my favor and God will accept me.
These lies burrow and root themselves deep within the soil of our hearts, but I realize now that the focus of both of these lies is me. I’m the center. My sin is so great. I am so awful. But if I can do better, then I can be “good enough.” My sin is so great that it affects the outcome of the football game for my favorite team, or whether I get that job, or whether that girl will go out with me, or if I win the lottery (notice the I, I, my, me).
The more entrenched in these self-centered lies, the harder it is to hear God’s good news:
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26
Silly me. The Vikings winning or losing has nothing to do with me. Getting into heaven has nothing to do with me, either. Being right with God is not about me and what I’ve done. Being right with God has everything to do with Jesus and what He did for me. By placing my faith in what Jesus did for me, I’m made right with God.
As for being a fan of the Vikings and the Cubs, that takes a lot of faith, too.