Some people go to God in order for God to improve them. They have looked in the mirror and have decided they need a behavioral make-over. So they go to God to change certain aspects of their life—unpleasant circumstances, unsavory behavioral traits and bad habits.
I am not sure God is interested in being our cosmetic surgeon. We don’t get to treat Him like that. When God is our cosmetic surgeon we can go to Him when we want to. We decide what He will cut on and change and what He will leave alone. You see we are still in charge of the process. This is very egocentric on our part.
The Bible teaches that there is no good motivation for seeking God other than God Himself.
If I seek God because I need something from Him; bigger house, more money, an ease to my circumstantial discomfort—I am really just seeking self. God has become a means to my end.
If the only reason we long for righteousness is to improve me then God has become a self-help guru—a heavenly Dr. Phil. I am not sure that is what God had in mind when he created mankind.
Imagine that you have a dream tonight and in the dream you are walking down a hallway. You come to a closed door and over this doorway there is a sign that says, “Love.” You open the door and from the threshold you view all of the pleasures of love. You enter and seek after the pleasures of sensual love. You experience pleasure after pleasure. You chase this love and that love. And then you are pursued by this love and that love. You find some and you get found—in this great room of love. Some of your “loves” become part of your entourage. They adore you. You have your conquests.
The next door you come to is a door with the sign “Wealth” over the top. You open it and see all kinds of people working in there. You see the captains of industry working hard for their wealth. You gladly and without hesitation go into the room. You make money. It is easy and fun. You feel the thrill and security of having lots of wealth. Then you decide to see what else you can see. So you fill up bags and bags of money and with your love trophies in tow, you move down the hallway to another door.
The sign over this door says “Success.” In here you climb the corporate ladder and win the honor of success. You fight battles and win. Virtually all you touch turns out well. You are Man or Woman of the Year. You do good things, charitable things and you come out of there with medals. You are gifted in that all that you touch seems to turn out perfectly.
Now you have your entourage, your bags of money and nice home and cars and your medals of success and you move to the next door.
This door has a sign that says “Status.” You enter this room and you see that it is filled with people trying to make an impression on the society. There are folks doing good deeds for reputation. There are people who schmooze to get a certain prestigious positions in business and service clubs. There are people who work hard at serving on certain committees in the church or denomination. You get in line and play by the rules of the get yours. You become the Chairman of Deacons of the Second Methobapterian Community Church. You are a person of importance in the community.
You leave this room with your badge, your medals of success, your bags of money and your love trophies-and you come to the last room.
Over this door is the sign that says “Righteousness.” At the threshold you see an empty white room, but right in the middle is a white marble bench and a bronze skinned man is sitting there in a blue-grey robe. He’s wearing sandals and he looks up as you stand in the doorway. He has deep, dark and welcoming eyes. He has an easy and beautiful white smile. He gestures you to come in; you see ugly scars on his hands but he is so compelling you feel a strong desire to enter the room and be with him.
You take a step across the threshold with your medals, badges, bags of money and trophies of love and as soon as your right foot touches the floor in this room—He stands to his feet and his blue-grey robe changes to brilliant white. He is growing before your very eyes and he is so tall that he fills the room. There is a light emanating from him that is brighter than a hundred suns. He opens his mouth to speak and a voice that sounds so loud and powerful all you can think of is the crashing breakers on a rock coast of the ocean.
He is at once the most frightening and the most beautiful being you have ever seen.
As you stand just inside the door you notice that the power radiating from him is causing your love-trophies to become transparent and invisible, you see the bags of cash begin to burn, your medals of success and badges of status melt and burn up. You know that if you stay much longer you will lose everything and you will have nothing.
Yet you feel so compelled by the sheer beauty of this person—you ache to go to him, but if you do you will lose everything.
What do you do?
Most people see this divine person and step back across the threshold and mutter something about not wanting to become a fanatic. And they leave the room with their stuff. Perhaps they come to church and stand in the doorway and look into the room. Watching others consumed with love of Christ and robed in his righteousness. But these folks decide that looking into the room is as good as being in the room.
But there are a few who see Him and come to believe that He is too beautiful, too terrible, too compelling, and too awesome, to leave behind. And they are consumed by the righteousness of Christ. An interesting thing happens in this room—Jesus begins to wrap His robe around them in the room. His righteousness becomes theirs and they begin to look more and more like Him. They are changed.
Gone is their pride, homemade righteousness, comparative righteousness—it is all burning the closer they get to Him, but they can’t help it. And they begin to sing the old hymn,
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?”
This is a large room. There is room for many. There is room for you.