Saturday, July 25, 2015

I Am Not Good

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 (NKJV)

I am really not a very “good” person. Really…I am always more concerned with how I look than how you look. I am always more focused on what I eat and don’t give a second thought to what you are eating. I care more about how much money is in my bank account than what you have in yours. I could go on…’cause you see, I’m really not a very good person, and that’s a real problem.

The scribes and Pharisees were pretty amazing when it came to being good. They were miles better than myself when it came to following God’s rules. They probably did a lot more “good” kind of servant works than I will ever even consider doing. (Moment of truth—they were a lot more “good” than I am!) Let me tell you that I feel a bit out of sorts, because Jesus said that I will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless my righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. "Are you kidding me? Jesus, are you really expecting me to be that good?"

Further into this teaching, Jesus doubled down and said that the expectation is that I (Ron Dugone) should be perfect, even as God is perfect. My goose is so cooked! (Poetic Pause) “What’s that Lord? What are you saying? That Your grace is sufficient for me? What does that mean?”

It means that I will never be “good” enough to “earn” my salvation, but that God’s grace will cover my short-comings. As far as my righteousness is concerned, I am covered in the beauty of Christ’s righteousness, a righteousness that far surpasses the religious works of the scribes and the Pharisees. One more thing before I go…knowing that I’m called to be perfect as God is perfect causes a new wave of humility. I have an incredible journey ahead as I humble myself and chase after the God who calls me to be like Him.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The List

One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

When I was a young man I desired a lot of things. Maintaining a relationship with God was on the list, but in practical terms of how I lived, He certainly wasn’t on or maybe even near the top. It’s not that I was a wild and crazy guy diving into the vices of the world, because, I did not have a desire to be like the prodigal son. So, what were the things that occupied the top of my list of desires? To be successful, to be popular with my peers, to be adored by my wife, to be worshiped by my children, to make a better than average income, to be praised by my parishioners, to be in control… I could go on ad nauseam.

Everything in the way I lived screamed, “I want to be somebody!” This leads to an unconscious preoccupation with comparing and measuring yourself against everyone else who seems to be accomplishing “your” list. It triggers envy. It depresses with insecurity. It strokes and manipulates the ego. It frustrates in its endless futility. In the center of this maniacal firestorm is you…you sitting on the throne of your own heart. Alone, and still preoccupied with the person in the mirror.

One day I woke up…and I realized that Solomon was on to something when he wrote that all in life was vanity. That is when it dawned on me that God needed to be at the top of my list and "yours truly" thrown off the throne! Life is not about the image that I see in the mirror, it is about the one who is preparing a place for me beyond this life. I now understand the words of the Psalmist David, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Being with the Lord, life does not get any better than that!