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Cemetery standards

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

John 5:17-30
Jesus says,
"A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear (my) voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."

Psalm 14:3         There is no one who does good, not even one.
Psalm 53:3         There is no one who does good, not even one.
Romans 3:12         There is no one who does good, not even one.

Romans 7:18         I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.

All the well-meaning obituaries, eulogies and gravestone etchings aside, "good" is not something we define for ourselves. "He was a good father," "his heart was in the right place," "here lies our family hero," don't cut it. If those who have done evil will "rise to be condemned," then I'm in for a rude awakening. We're all in for a rude awakening.

I'm usually happiest when I'm a big fish in a small pond. When my integrity and intelligence and compassion are measured by the small-pond-stick I look pretty good, feel pretty good about myself, get praised for my goodness by others. Makes me feel pretty good. So this verse scares me. Gives me a glimpse of the ocean out beyond, and makes me see that my world isn't as big as I thought it was. God, I need a reality check!

When Isaiah got a reality check, he was overcome with fear. Same for Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Paul, John ... maybe you could hold off, God, on that reality check?

Actually, this is what I keep hearing from God...

First John 4:10,        This is love...this is love, not that we loved God but he loved us, and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
First John 4:10,        This is love.

Years ago I learned a memory melody to sing this verse, and it's planted deeply in my brain. I'm glad. This really is comforting to me. I think this changes things, and that my awakening won't be so rude after all. My goodness isn't the issue anymore. I can now be "good" in response to my freedom rather than being good in order to receive it. The horse goes before the cart.

Lord, you are God and I am not. You are good, and I am not. Thank you for putting yourself in my place. Freeing me to be the person you want me to be. Thank you.

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