Welcome to the human race! How do you know you are a human? Do you say, “I don’t care what other people think” but secretly do? Do you feel like everyone else in the group “clicks” except you? Do you have something you are ashamed or embarrassed about? Do you feel you have to live up to an image instead of just being yourself?
I most likely hit the mark with one of those questions proving you are human. What a relief! We can all say “I am screwed up just like everyone else!”
I think the Apostle Paul nailed it (of course with God’s help).
He wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15-16:
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”
Paul thought he was the worst sinner out there. That is a very honest assessment. Each one of us could say the same thing and believe it. I often say the only reason Paul wrote he was the worst sinner is I wasn’t born yet. We truly know just how bad we can be. We are there for every single sin we commit. We also know our thoughts and intentions. We know what we are thinking and to be honest we can think about some pretty bad stuff.
Bottom line: Paul was human
His realistic perspective gives us hope. If he can be redeemed. If he can have a right relationship with God. Then, we can be redeemed and have a right relationship with God. This is critical because one of the most common misperceptions I hear is “I have blown it so bad there is no hope for me.” Paul reminds us there is always hope.
There is another amazing reality in this passage. Paul does not list a whole bunch of things he has to do. Instead he points to God’s mercy and Jesus’… patience.
You have to let that sink in. God’s response to us being human is to give mercy and be patient.
No wonder the very next thing Paul writes is:
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Verse 17)
He had a moment of worship. I am also humbled by the reality of these verses. In our culture (the United States) we tend to focus on things we have to do or labels we can give.
Philip Yancey wrote a book called “What’s so Amazing about Grace.” He shared a story in which a person is challenged to describe the gospel in a sentence. I have modified the language but basically he said: “We are all screw-ups but God loves us anyway.”
Where are you today? Have you bought into a lie that you are so screwed up you can not be redeemed? Paul would disagree. Do you believe you are redeemed but now are working so hard to maintain your relationship with God you have no joy or peace? Paul would invite you to accept God’s mercy and be thankful for Jesus’ patience.
I love the picture of Jesus smiling and telling his Dad just how much he loves us as he shakes his head, takes a deep breath and is…patient.