While he was teaching a youth group across town, my boyfriend set up an imaginary bus between the chairs in the sanctuary. It’s next stop? Hell. He asked the youth if they believed they deserved to go to hell. Well, almost the entire youth group got up out of their seats and went to the imaginary bus in the center aisle—but I didn’t.
After everyone returned to their seats, he asked the flip question, if anyone believed they deserved to get on a bus going to heaven. I sheepishly and solitarily side-stepped into the center aisle. Now, I certainly don’t think I’m worthy in and of myself to ride the bus to heaven, but I’m also certain that my bus ticket doesn’t say my final destination is hell. Because, Jesus, right?
It’s sort of a trick question. Can we deserve to go to hell, and simultaneously deserve to go to heaven? Deservedness is a matter of your identity. Is it in Christ? We, as Christians, are adopted by the King, and an heir does nothing to deserve his inheritance; it’s given to him because of his identity as his father’s child.
Satan will try to lie to you about your identity; he’ll tell you that you are not a qualified ambassador for the Lord. You aren’t worthy to represent Jesus. You cannot give God glory. You are not a little Christ. Satan wants to trap you in sin, too: lust for it, guilt from it—it doesn’t matter, just as long as you think you’re good for nothing other than messing up, as long as you believe you’ll never escape the inevitable fall.
Falling short is not falling from grace, though. Whenever you mess up (I say when, not if, since you won’t be perfect until you’re eternally separated from this flesh), don’t get stuck in the worry and wallow. It’s easy to revel in the guilt of falling into mire, or to anticipate another slippery slope of temptation. Regretting and dreading sin is just as hindering as the sin itself. Instead, be grateful that you’ll inherit everything jointly with Jesus. Change your perspective to gratitude that He’s already accomplished the ultimate victory.
Paul said it better than I could: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 1:12-14).
Look at how much He loves you: the Old Testament was written to set the stage for the New Testament, and the New Testament was written so that you would find the gospel message. That means the entire Bible was written so that you could be a part of the continuing story. It’s sort of a trick question: do you deserve to represent Christ and give God glory? Don’t kid yourself. It’s what you were created for.