I was at church this morning helping the worship team set up. We sat down to pray and I was suddenly remembering a Barney Miller episode.
It was the one where the sweet older lady was arrested for writing bad checks. She was in the early stages of dementia. She was confused about why she had been arrested. One of the officers patiently explained to her that she owed several thousands of dollars to various people and businesses. She acted as though she understood and said “well let’s take care of that right now, I’ll just write you a check….”
That is where we all are morally. We are bankrupt but keep writing checks, asking for something or someone to cover us. We think that doing good deeds fills our checking account but according to the Bible, in God’s eyes our good deeds are like, this is kind of gross, like used menstral clothes, used sanitary devices. Our good deeds are worthless to God yet we hope to fill up our moral checking account with them, to balance the bad we do with some good deeds. It doesn’t work. It’s like writing a check on an overdrawn account to cover the overdrafts.
There is good news in all this. God himself has said that he can and will and has completely covered our debt. He did this in Jesus, in his death and resurrection. That is why his coming to earth is so important. It continues God’s plan forward.
The apostle Paul said this in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
He says this later in the same letter, “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
This Christmas God is waiting and wanting all of us to receive his gift, the best gift ever, forgiveness of sins, welcome into family and eternal life with him in a place where there are no tears or pain, only love and joy.