"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- so that no one can boast." Esphesians 2:8-9
To my knowledge, there will be only one of two salutations from Jesus, as each and every one of us eventually stands before Him:
"Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord." Or.....
"Depart from me, worker of iniquity; I never knew you."
How I've wished, from time to time, there would be an intermediate one. That might seem a moot point, to a lot of us. Yet... Part of me wants to hear, "Okay, Bobby. You didn't do a lot of good in the world, yet you didn't do any real harm. Go around to the back door, let yourself in. Dishes are stacked in the sink... well. You'll know what to do."
That attitude, one of not being 'good enough' to be embraced, to be lovingly welcomed through His front gates, has dogged me forever. And, I suspect, more that a few of us. If only we could know how faulty that thinkning is.
It's ingrained in us, from the time we're born, that we have to earn things; whether material or an elevated status. Receiving involves humility. An acknowledgment of, "Thank you for that. I can't repay you. All I can do is to receive it."
God's grace defies all logic. It's impossible to rationalize. It short-circuits my brain, trying to figure it out. He says, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Every fiber of my being wants to sceam, "What did I DO?"
His reponse, according to John 6:29, was "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
And we're going, "But-but-but-but..." We want to do something, anything, to warrant our salvation; our place at the King's table.
I was at a Walmart once, in the checkout lane. The cashier had tallied my items, told me what was due. I pulled the wallet out, fished through it, found the debit card. She took it, scanned it, handed it back to me. "It's expired."
I fumbled through the billfold again. No cash. Zippo. My wife and I don't carry credit cards. The image of my new debit card on the dining table, unstreaked with countless trascations, flashed across my mind, the orange label across it saying, 'To activate this card, call 1-800-'
Before I could stammer a response to the gal with purple earrings behind the register, a lady next in line pressed a tweny-dollar bill into my hand. "Here. Let me get this."
Of course, I started to protest. "No, no...."
"Don't rob me of this blessing."
Talk about humbling? There was nothing I could do, but to accept her gift. I followed her out into the parking lot. "Let me get your address, so I can.." She wouldn't have it.
"Have a blessed day." And she was gone.
When the prodigal son returned, shoulders slumped, his father saw him from a distance, and ran to meet him. RAN. No arms akimbo, no condescending patting of the foot, no dramatic, protracted clearing of the throat. He was simply overjoyed that his son had come home.
Why can't some of us get that picture? Because I want to earn that first salutation Knowing the utter futility of it, yet stubbonrnly clinging to the notion.
Somehow, I don't thjink the Lord will call up some Linked-In page of all our earthly accomplishments, as we're standing before Him. A rationale, for "Well done...." Wouldn't that- to some degree - nullify the work He did for us, on the cross?
I'm not advocating a life of Buddha -like inactivity, but our 'work' on this mortal coil should be a by-product of our faith, a spontaneous outpouring of our joy, that we've been grafted into the royal family.
I can't process it now, with the finite computer I have... but the new one will. All I will be able to do on that day -and here's the penultimate example of understatement- will be to bow my head, and say, "Thank You, Lord."