180 degrees

What it means to follow Jesus:

Everyone who does makes a 180 degree turn.

180 degree turn Creative Commons

Whether living on a prairie gathering sheaves of wheat . . or in a ghetto rummaging through trash . . or in a modern mansion checking the stock exchange . . or living on the inside of a maximum security prison wondering how to survive lunch in the cafeteria.

Everyone makes a 180 degree to follow Christ.

There isn’t any person who is more lost than another in terms of degrees of change.  Whether you’ve been going to church all your life — or you’ve never even seen the inside of a church . . whether you’ve helped out at your local soup kitchen and mentored kids at the Boys & Girls Club and raised money for hurricane survivors and sponsored a child in a high-poverty country — or your credit card debt reflects the flagrant life you’ve lived for yourself and you’ve never given a penny to charity . . whether you’ve tried to live a life of pleasing people and helping others when you can and leaving the smallest footprint on the environment you can — or you’ve lived a life of shoving people down so you could get higher on the career ladder and insulting others and never recycling . . whether you’ve save a life — or taken a life . .

Everyone makes a 180 degree turn to follow Christ.

This is because all the motives we have, all our reasons for doing things, all our emotions, all our thoughts . . are always withOUT allegiance to God before we know Him.  And whether we were trying to do good or not,

We weren’t.

This can be kind of hard to understand.  Does that mean that God doesn’t accept our good that we do on on own?

The question is phrased wrong.  We canNOT do good on our own, because God is the source of good.  So it isn’t that God doesn’t accept our good, but that what we are doing isn’t really good.

Have you ever had to work with someone on a project, or hired someone for a task, who really did not know what they were doing?  However well-meaning that person might have been, was what they did good?

I remember one time trying to help out around the house by cleaning out what I thought no longer belonged in the refrigerator.  I found this huge, untouched canister of Ricotta cheese.  Not knowing what the cheese was supposed to smell like, I tossed it down the garbage disposal.  I meant to help.  I was well-meaning.  But actually, I created more effort and expense before Mom could make the lasagna she’d planned for the company we were having.

One time I took my mom to ER for severe pain that she was having.  We got there, and they needed to run an IV to give her medicine or fluids intravenously.  But the medical assistance couldn’t get the IV needle in her vein.  He kept trying, and eventually gave up.  He was trying to do his job.  But actually, he created more pain and no relief for my mother.

We can try to do things that we think that God would like.  And don’t get me wrong, genuinely trying to do good deeds from God’s commands is usually better[1] than trying to do evil deeds that rebel against His commands.  For example, if I had been maliciously tossing everything out of the refrigerator, that would have been worse than my well-intentioned error.  Or if the ER medic had been maliciously trying to cause my mother pain, that would have certainly been worse than his inability to assist her.

But that doesn’t mean these were the right things to do.  It simply means they were better than open malice.  But what does the Bible say about our own efforts to please God?

Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:8, NIV)

. . And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:14-18, NLT)

. . Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (Galatians 2:16, NLT)

Your past sin ONLY has eternal significance if you do not place your faith in Jesus Christ.

Whatever ‘good’ (that really wasn’t) you thought you did, whatever evil you are horrified of that you can’t believe you committed, none of that is eternally significant if the atoning blood of Jesus covers your life.

Instead, His blood cleanses all of our past actions, whether we thought they were somewhat nice or whether we are petrified of them.  Coming to salvation, we lay all our past on the table before Him, count it as nothing but filthy rags, and start over in Him.

We all make a 180-degree turn when we receive Christ.  All of us.  No one is so good that they have to make only a 179-degree turn.  And no one is so bad that they have to make more than a 180-degree turn.  We all make the same turn when we believe in Christ.

The question is not how far will you have to turn if you choose to follow Christ, but whether you will make the 180-degree turn of following Him.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (Romans 3:22, NLT)


[1] But remember Saul (Paul) who thought that maliciously persecuting the church was a part of God’s commands.  Because he did not understand God’s commands, he was actually far worse by trying to practice them than if he had ignored them.

Photograph by David Blaikie, profile on http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikonvscanon/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Praise God for His Spirit and His Word that bring about our transformation as we place our faith in Jesus Christ His Son, the propitiation for our sins. God bless you:)

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