"For He knoweth our frame...." - Psalm 102:14
Billy Graham once said, it is significant that our first astronauts, while being trained for their moon flights, were required to give twenty answers to the query, “Who are you?” Take the same test yourself. When you have made your list and run out of things to add, ask yourself if you have truly answered. Do you really know who you are? Scientists agree that our desperate search leads all humans to seek heroes and to imitate others, to “paste bits and pieces of other people on ourselves.” We make love as some actor would. We play golf in the style of Jack Nicklaus. Part of this process is natural, for we learn by imitating others. The tragedy is that the person we assemble is not genuine. “Who am I?” you cry as you roam the world looking for yourself. Consider this: there are three of you. There is the person you think you are. There is the person others think you are. There is the person God knows you are and can be through Christ.
Do you know Harry Houdini?
Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist issued a challenge wherever he went.
He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free quickly and easily.
Always he kept his promise, but one time something went wrong.
Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut behind him.
He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible.
He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock.
For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere.
An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door.
By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock.
Finally, after laboring for 2 hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock.
But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all!
But in his mind it was locked and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.
That's how powerful your God-given mind is.
Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God (Isaiah 6:5; Romans 3:23) any more than a beggar in rotten rags could dine at a king's table. Our best efforts are still infected with sin. Our only hope, therefore, is faith in Jesus Christ, who can cleanse us and bring us into God's presence (read Romans 3).This passage, however, doesn't mean that God will reject us if we come to him in faith, nor that he despises our efforts to please him. However, if we come to him demanding acceptance on the basis of our "good" conduct, God will point out that our righteousness is nothing compared to his infinite righteousness. This message is primarily for the unrepentant person, not the true follower of God.
First, you, and everyone else, is made in the image of God. The image is imprinted into the soul of every man, woman, and child. This is part of the common ground upon which we all stand and should relate to one another. The wicked and the righteous, the right and the wrong, and believers and the blasphemous are all image bearers and because of this they are worthy of respect and love. God is our Creator, whether we confess this or not, and because all are his we must treat them as such. How do we treat that which belongs to God? Carefully and thoughtfully. This doesn't mean we never speak hard words, rebuke, or fight. But it requires that when we do such things we do so with care and grace.
Second, you, and everyone else, are sinful. "All have sinned" making us all lawbreakers worthy of condemnation. This too is part of the common ground upon which we all stand and should relate to one another. Both the morally upright and the morally bankrupt are sinners in need of the forgiveness of sins. This should lead us, especially the Christian, to a place of humility. We should see that, in one sense, we are no better than anyone else. We are broken, needy, and helpless and can only find hope in the offer of grace from God. This is where humility is born. Seeing ourselves rightly as sinners in need of mercy, just like everyone else. When we forget who we are by nature a mean spirit is quick to take root.
As Christians who are biblically informed, we have real and substantive answers to the questions of this life; we posses a wisdom and understanding of reality that the lost do not; we live with the hope of a better future when all things are finally and forever made new. Our engagement in the lives of our unchurched neighbors should compel them to ask why we posses this hope! It is here that we tell them about this Jesus, what he did for us, and what he desires to do for them; we tell them, "Repent and enter his loving kingdom where you will find peace and rest!"