It’s strange how memories of some events from long ago can seem as real today as when they first occurred. I first encountered Jesus over forty years ago and very imperfectly invited Him into my life. I say imperfectly because I didn’t give Him access to every room of my heart. There were some shameful places that no-one knew about, and which would stay locked, even to the loving presence of God, for many more difficult years.
It was in that condition that I was once present during a conversation about a retired Christian couple’s devoted, but unbelieving, son. Another Christian was commenting on how lovely he was as a person and how faithful he was to them, his parents. He then added, “He would make a lovely Christian.” I still remember how my heart sank within me when I heard those words, because, in my eyes, I was so unlovely. If you needed to be a wonderful person to be a wonderful Christian, what hope was there for me?
Perhaps everyone reading this Seed can see the error in my thinking above, but there was also error in the well-meaning person’s comment about the couple’s genuinely good and praiseworthy son. In our verse today, the rich young man who came so eagerly to Jesus was to all appearances a genuinely upright and sincere seeker – a son that any parent would be proud of. The problem was that, however nice he was, he still shared the same sinful nature as the worst of sinners that crowded and followed Jesus as He travelled around. It was a long and painful journey for me before I came, years later, as an unlovely but desperate prodigal to Jesus and discovered that it’s His loveliness that changes our ugliness and His tenderness that melts our bitterness.
Romans 5:6-8 tells us this, ‘Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.’
This is such good news for the broken and the lost. It’s just possible that someone reading this Seed today is thinking the same thoughts that which seemed to disqualify me from God’s favour all those years ago. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, for those who know they fall short and can’t make it to heaven by their own goodness. If you see yourself as unlovely, please know that Jesus doesn’t see you that way. Lift up your head to see the love in His eyes for you. Open your heart as best you can and begin to let Him into every room of your life. He will change you from the inside out and give you His beauty, even for the ashes of pain and failure.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, take me as I am, I can come no other way. Take me deeper into You, make my flesh life melt away (lyrics by Dave Bryant). Amen.
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