Friday, December 28, 2007

Is a Good Example Good Enough?

There were three men. They were all caught in very deep mud. It was so thick that none of them could climb out, and it would take about a full day for them to sink. And it was so deep that they would sink for a about a mile after going under. To say the least, their predicament was severe. But they didn't all see the severity in the same way.

About an hour later another man who seemed to know the area pretty well walked up to the three men. This man had the ability to walk on the mud without sinking or getting soiled. The three men in the mud had different reactions.

The first man was amazed at this stranger's ability to stay above the surface of the mud. The second man thought it was a trick. The third man was amazed, and wondered who he was.

The walking man said to all three, "I have come to help you all get to safety. What do you say?"

The first man said, "Sure. Just show me how you do what you do." And so the walking man demonstrated his technique, and even gave the first man lessons. But the first man tried and tried, and only managed to sink even faster. He became angry and died.

The second man said, "I can use some rope." So the man got some rope and gave it to him. He struggled and struggled until he sank, with the rope sticking out and sinking behind him. But before he sunk, he said, "I knew this was a trick!"

The third man was wiser than the first two. He said, "Sir, I accept your offer. But, I don't know what I need. All I know is that I don't want to die. Please help me."

The man reached out his hand and pulled the third man up out of the mud and saved him.

What's the point?

Jesus did not come to merely be a good example to follow. Yet many people (I even know personally) believe that is exactly why he came. They often say, "Perhaps he was a good man, or even a prophet from God. But following the Ten Commandments and the example of Jesus is all that is really required."

That would be true if we were as good as Jesus. But the Commandments and Jesus example demonstrate that we are not, and we are condemned. Trying to do better is admirable. But, we have failed to live up to God's commandments whether we admit it or not. And for this we are guilty, no matter what we feel about ourselves or think about God.

Think about it. The most important commandments concern our relationship with God. The others concern our relationships with each other. We have demonstratively failed in either case from the day of our birth. Trying harder doesn't undo what has already been done. Trying harder doesn't change us. We need something more. We need something that is beyond our ability or understanding to attain—for even our understanding is corrupted. We need a Savior and we need to be changed.

Do you dare take Jesus up on his offer? (John 11:25-27) Or do you dare dictate your own terms? (Luke 14:15-35)

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