My point in all this is that we are broken people living in a broken culture and we are called to minister to people like us who have made a mess of life. We must invite them into relationship with Jesus without laying on them the impossible task of cleaning themselves up first.
Before we are quick to look down on the Jewish leaders we should stop to think about why this story is important enough to be in the Bible. It is important that it is in there because we are made of the same stuff and will fall into the same traps if left to ourselves.
The point is that all his religious accomplishment was not able to produce anything of ultimate value. When he came face-to-face with Christ Jesus, he understood that all his achievements totaled up to a pile of rubbish, trash, waste. He is forgetting what lies behind because it is of no value.
I find that there is in me a stubborn and deep seated resistance to the application of the Gospel. In brief, I have the desire to work hard enough and be perfect enough to not need grace. I want to be above criticism.
I am learning to trust that God can use my choices, even the faulty ones, to bring me to the place he wants me to be. Like a GPS that recalculated the route when I miss a turn, God can bring about his plan without my full understanding or cooperation.
But Jesus is the wild card that makes everything possible. The point (or at least one point) of this story is that no-one is beyond hope. No-one should be written off as no longer able to be changed. No-one.
The question I have to ask myself is this, “if John the Baptist, arguably the greatest prophet sent before Christ, experienced doubt and confusion, why would I assume that I should be exempt?”
If we fail to properly value the individual people in our charge we are failing in our mission thus demonstrating a gap between how God views those people and how we do.
I am learning that success in any endeavor cannot be the gauge by which I assess myself. My value does not come from what I do or how successfully I do it. My value comes from the one who gave his life so that I might be in relationship with him.
I found these affirmations by Frank Viola to be quite helpful to me and thought I would bring them to the attention of my readers.