Written By: Ryan Walters
I’m uncertain of the phrase,“it’s got to be better”. I’m quite torn by it honestly.
If you’re anything like me, a broken human running what often seems to be an exhausting race called life, then perhaps you empathize with the disheartening feeling of screwing up (1 Cor. 9:24-27). If you call yourself a Christian, then you identify this ‘screwing up’ as sinning. If you do not particularly identify with a faith-based worldview, then you might just refer to it as making a mistake. Either way, let’s meet halfway and name it bad-relating. After all, would you not say that robbing a convenience store, murdering a man, deceiving a friend, slandering your neighbor, exhibiting racist qualities, or being flat out greedy falls beneath the category of relating poorly?
I fear that in those moments of bad-relating, the mindset of “it’s got to be better” with it’s good intentions, actually estranges us from our Creator. I’m conflicted and I’ll explain why. Should it be the common language of a Christian in response to his or her individual behavior? I don’t know. I’m not being dogmatic or anything, but I am proposing we dissect it a bit. A little exploring of the deep recesses of our susceptible hearts never did any harm, right? (Psalms 26:2).
My subjective outlook on this saying is that it insinuates in a subtle manner…
….. “I’ve got to be better”. Huh. Sounds like works-based religious fallacy if you ask me.
Ain’t that the kinda’ stuff that Christians should be preaching against? Don’t we put stock and hope in the idea that we could never attain righteousness or salvation on our own?
Face it. Universally speaking, each one of us no matter our faith background have this innate desire to be synced with the mission of doing things for the greater good of all mankind. And what happens when we fall short of executing that goal? Well, I don’t know about you but I get pretty upset.I get really down on myself. And that’s when the popular thought strikes: I’ve got to be better or it’s got to be better.
It implies that if the man himself is ‘better’ in his own strength, then his willingness to travel down the same immoral path will diminish. FALSE. Couldn’t be more wrong. The more you think you got to be better, the worse your entanglement to your transgressions will be. If you’re the one committing the wrong, the one who got himself stuck in the mire in the first place, how do you expect to be lifted up out of the muck? Don’t you think a third party needs to be involved to rescue you?
Here’s what I call the magical paradox: only until you lose your life will you save it.
Crazy I know. Completely goes against the grain of what we are fed (Matt. 10:39). Sit in the mud. Contemplate your options. 1) Stay confined to bad-relating by doing life the way that seems best to me or 2) Accept freedom from the constant propensity to relate poorly by choosing a different way of life, and flee a life of 24/7 mire-bathing (Acts 13:38-39).
We need to boast in the fact that there isn’t a single thing we can do to be better by our own merit. We need to begin bragging about Christ and His finished work on the cross at no-charge that provided a way of freedom from our bad-relating.
When we stumble, succumb, and fall prey to our bad-relating, our initial or subsequent response should also never include: “this isn’t good enough thus I’m not good enough”.
This response implies that you are not loved or cherished enough by a God, who knit you together in your mother’s womb, who would be willing to be that third party to rescue you from the muddy mess you found yourself in. I reiterate: FALSE.
That’s quite contrary to the Gospel message you’ll find in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You were pursued while in your darkest and most immoral hour (Rom. 5:8). You are still being pursued despite your rebellion, which by the way will continue occurring even after You call upon Jesus to rescue you. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but you do not become the “oh so holy one” overnight. Your heart is still tainted with the disposition of bad-relating. Thankfully, there is gentle grace offered from the Lord throughout His redeeming operation.
Do you really want to call the Lord a fool for sacrificing His only begotten Son so that He could be in relationship with you eternally? No movie-guru in their right mind ever labeled Aslan’s giving of his life for Edmund a decision of stupidity; it was a heart-wrenching choice of absolute unconditional love. But think about it, when you state “I’m not good enough” are you not declaring that someone would have to be foolish to give up their life for you? Good news is that our Father in Heaven views us as wonderfully made even when we don’t see ourselves that way.
When we relate poorly, we feel appalled, uncomfortable, and grieved while sitting in our own muck. But God? Nah, God sees nothing by white. When He peers down at you, He sees the blood of Jesus shed for you so that you might be pulled up out of the mire never to ensnared by it ever again.
maybe instead of saying “I’ve got to be better” the next time you get caught up in sin, you could speak to Jesus and whisper: “Thanks for loving me in my current state and for being the reason and hope I have to want to be better. And better for me means be more like You.”