Hitting the Mark

Months ago I came across a Facebook friend who shared an article about one of the blogs of a pastor I occasionally follow. The blog entry is of a man who shared his conviction about choosing not to kiss his girlfriend/fiance until the day of his wedding. Since I have a lot of church friends on Facebook, I often see these kinds of blog entries re-posted or shared on a positive light. However, this time around, it was shared by someone from a different belief. Needless to say the re-poster’s opinion, as well as the comments he gained were brutal.

I read the blog entry over and over again. The story is encouraging. In fact, I would like all young people to read it and be inspired by the story – a guy who is willing to preserve the purity of his would-be bride until the day of the wedding. After all, he wants to please God, and he wants their relationship to be pleasing before God. The “haters”, meanwhile, thought his story is extremely prudish, hypocritical, and self-absorbed.

I could not sleep that night, thinking about the comments of these “haters”. I desperately want to tell them that they are missing the point of the story. I realized then that that was the problem – the point is missing in the story.

The bashers even went to the extent of laughing at the “bad” grammar of the author. In my mind I was thinking, the grammar was not bad. The grammar was in fact spot on. But the author is speaking too much “Christianese” that he failed to hit the mark.

Don’t get me wrong. We all fail to hit the mark at times because we probably get too excited, and here’s an attempt to put a sense to the story.

Point 1: No One is Righteous

Here’s an encouragement from the Apostle Paul in Romans 3:9-10

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

I am not saying that the blog post was written out of self-righteousness, nor am I saying that it is written out of pride. I genuinely believe that it is written first, to encourage purity and holiness in the midst of an unholy generation. The author failed to mention that he is no different from everybody else. He failed to mention that sexual abstinence is one of the most difficult things that one will ever decide to do in this liberal society.

The bashers hated the author because what they might have read between the lines is a picture of a demigod who is unfazed by the sight of, well, anything that screams sex and lust. But that is not the truth, isn’t it? Every single person, myself included, and even those who bury their face in their Bible everyday, is tempted similarly in every way.

Point No 2: Where is Jesus in this?

Kuya Ding, one of our church leaders, always asks this question, “where is Jesus in this?”

In our blog posts, in our sermons, in our studies of the Bible, did we ever ask this question? Where is Jesus in this?

Paul continued on in the next verses of Romans chapter 3 the role of Jesus in our quest to purity, holiness and righteousness.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

The Cross is such a beautiful story. Because it is where we are justified from the consequences of our sin. Because it is where we are sanctified over and over so that we can say, hey, I am not doing this because I am a stuck up prick who thinks I am better than everybody else.  I cannot do this alone. I cannot be righteous alone. I cannot pretend that I can do good. I am righteous because Christ purchased that righteousness for me and not because of what I do.  I strive to do good to please God but I know I am bound to failure in one way or another, just as how the world has predicted. But the good news is, God loves me anyway.

“Where then is boasting”, Paul asks in verse 27 of the same chapter in Romans, “It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith”

Here’s Jesus our quest to purity: he died on the cross so that we could freely pursue purity, holiness and righteousness, and not boast about them. That same grace that justified us from our sins is the same grace that sanctifies us from sin to enable us to do good. The law that requires faith is the law that we cannot follow apart from the grace of God.

This is a reminder for all of us to never leave out Christ in the picture. People must be able to see what Jesus Christ has done and what he is continuing to do in your life, before they see what you are willing to do to honor and glorify him. That is hitting the mark.

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