I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ… (Philippians 3:8-10)
God’s grace is powerful. It’s big enough to save drunks, murderers, users, abusers, and persecutors. But that’s not all; He doesn’t stop there. He even saves those who grew up in the church and never slept around, never got in a fight, never smoked a joint. Can you imagine that? His grace is so big that He even saves me.
That’s my testimony. I grew up in a good home with loving Christian parents; I did well in school; I’ve volunteered in a nursing home, graduated from seminary, and I’m serving as a pastor. And yet none of that gives me an “in” with God: The only confidence I can have before our holy God is Jesus Christ Himself, to whom I belong body and soul. I need Jesus just as much as anyone else: I need the Jesus who even saves pastors.
When we begin to see God for who He is, and His law for what it is, it doesn’t matter how good and “churchy” our lives appear. We quickly find that we are desperately in need of forgiveness and transformation. We see pride that we never thought was there; we find selfishness that sucks us inward; we discover a self-sufficient and independent attitude that keeps us from trusting and yielding to our God. And we recognize that anything truly good in our lives—anything—has come not from us or our merits, but from God, the giver of all good gifts. And from this God we—even we!—can receive pardon alongside the most notorious criminals.
And if Jesus can save someone like me—prideful and rebellious as I am—He can save you and anybody. Jesus didn’t just died for the murderers; He died for the “good” people who looked down on the murderers and congratulated themselves that they weren’t like them. He brings even self-righteous hypocrites to a place of brokenness and a posture of repentance. That’s grace! There’s hope even for me, for you.
We don’t have to have gone off the deep end, and reached the world’s idea of rock-bottom, to truly experience the depth of God’s grace in Jesus. So for those of us who grew up in the church, never really “rebelled”, and maybe lead a Bible study, we need Jesus. And our testimony can just as powerfully point to God’s power and grace as that of the most hardened criminal.
Our God is so big that He doesn’t just save murderers; he even saves “church people” like me. That’s amazing grace.