After Sherry graduated UCLA in 2014, God sent her back home to the Bay and she is currently a member at Pillar Baptist Church. While the game plan is to start nursing school at Duke University next week, her heart hopes to be a stay-at-home wife and mom one day! She loves people (sometimes), whales, and sass. GO BRUINS!
“I have a great need for Christ, and I have a great Christ for my need.” C.H. Spurgeon
In my non-Christian home, I didn’t grow up hearing the gospel, memorizing verses, singing praise songs to Jesus. God was nowhere on my radar. Instead I learned that I could earn what I wanted and therefore I bought into the lie that if I was a relatively “good kid”, obedient, studious, and talented, I could get what I craved the most: man’s approval.
But in my heart, I was anything but good. I idolized the approval of man, constantly seeking how I could be well-esteemed in the eyes of others, and when my seemingly high moral fiber constantly won hearts, I believed I had it all figured out.
At the beginning of my freshmen year of high school, my brother’s friend invited him to church and because I always did everything my brother did, I naturally tagged along. By God’s grace, I found out one of my best friends from school also attended the same church so I went back again and again. Pretty soon, I was plugged in. I loved being a “Christian”! I finally had a label for my good behavior and Jesus seemed like a chill dude and everyone thought I was great. My faithful Christ-centered and Bible-preaching youth pastor constantly shared the gospel through inductive studies in Romans and Mark and made us read “Don’t Waste Your Life” and “Living the Cross-centered Life.” But I remained blind and dead in my sins. The following year, I started serving on the youth leadership team which fed my own self-deception that I was a good person. By using my own standard of righteousness and determining that I was committed to God and His church, I believed I was good enough to go to heaven. I deceived everyone around me too. But not God.
Ephesians 2:1-2a says “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world.” I thought my modesty about my heavy church involvement and high moral standards equated to being a good Christian, but my façade masked my failure to have a personal relationship with God. Because I had such a high view of myself, I treated Him as a Friday night/Sunday morning God. I had no fear of Him which was clearly evident through my failure to pray or read the Bible outside of church. My heart, still drenched with pride, lacked an understanding of His gracious Gospel. I was only concerned about my own image. I was my own god.
The summer right before college I returned from a national worship leader conference and on that especially cold night, my brother handed me the keys to the car to turn on the heater as he locked up for church. I jumped at the opportunity to test out my nonexistent driving skills. Despite never having driven that car before AND not having a permit, I turned on the ignition and switched to “reverse.” The car started backing out a lot faster than I anticipated, then through the rearview mirror I saw my friend drive by with his parent’s SUV. I panicked as I tried to park, but it was too late. I crashed into his car.
Praise God no one was injured, but it didn’t matter. I was found out by man. I had broken the law! I drove without a permit, I disobeyed my brother’s instructions, and I put my friend’s life at risk. I could no longer deceive those whom I sought the approval of. I could no longer even deceive myself. I was nothing like the good upstanding poster child I thought I was. My reputation was instantly shattered!
And that’s when it hit me. I was found out. Not merely by man, but by God, the very Creator and Sustainer and JUDGE of the universe. I felt so defiled; I felt the weight of my sin press down upon my wretched heart. It was His standard I was subject to. I am a terrible sinner in desperate need of His grace! I needed salvation! How could I dare be in the presence of such a holy and perfect God? How could He tolerate such a vile creature?
He could and can because of Jesus Christ, who as both fully God and fully man lived a perfect life and committed no sin. That makes Him the perfect and only valid substitute to pay for the punishment I deserve for my sin. My Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross in my place and rose again, conquering sin and death, and by faith alone, I am fully forgiven!
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” He revealed how deeply sinful I was and how I was basing my “salvation” on my “goodness” when there was none in there to begin with. I could not justify myself before God with my Pharisaic practices. Convicted of my depraved and sinful state before this Holy and Almighty God, I repented of my false humility finally understanding there is absolutely NOTHING I can do to earn my salvation. I didn’t even need to earn the approval of God because Christ earned that for me. In humility and love, Jesus Christ was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8). Christ redeemed us by His blood, so that we may be forgiven for our sins. I have full faith that Christ died on the cross and rose again, and now I live my life joyfully understanding that if Christ is to be Lord, I must deny myself and take up my cross daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23). I cannot be my own god. The Throne belongs to Him alone.
I pray I do not waste this life for my redemption came at the highest cost. My prayer is that God is put on display in my pursuit of holiness; He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). I still struggle with man’s approval. I still commit the idolatry of man. I still need Jesus Christ. But in my great need for Christ, I have a great Christ for my need.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).