If you want to get a bunch of people mad at you, try this. Say something on Facebook about making the switch from whole milk to 2% in order to live a healthier lifestyle. Now sit back and prepare for attack.
Someone will mention how 1% is much healthier.
And then the skim crowd will chime in.
Perhaps the worst will come from those who equate dairy with crystal meth and get their milk from organic, farm raised, fair trade mushrooms.
After about three or four seconds, you’ll figure something out. It’s never enough. You can never eat or live healthy enough. There’s always someone with a better plan, a better idea and a theory as to why your diet pretty much makes you the worst person who ever did live.
You just can’t win.
And that doesn’t just go for food.
In Jesus’ day, the spiritual elite were called Pharisees. They were perfect. Well, at least that’s what people thought. And they were just fine with people thinking that way. You might say that they did their best to make sure that people thought that way. If both products would have been available 2,000 years ago, the Pharisees would have an arm full of WWJD bracelets and a mouth full of Testamints. They were really good at looking the part.
So you can imagine the shock when Jesus told an audience that, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
How am I supposed to be more righteous than them. It’s impossible.
And that’s just where Jesus wanted his hearers to land. You might be familiar with the words he spoke to them at the beginning of his sermon.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 (ESV)
The point is that self-righteousness isn’t real righteousness. No one gets into heaven on their own righteousness.
Not superspiritual Pharisees.
Not zoned out meth heads.
Not connoisseurs of organic, farm raised, fair trade mushroom milk.
The only way you get in is through the righteousness of another. And it can’t be a Pharisee or some other member of the spiritual elite. The righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, remember?
Thankfully, there is a way.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
You can’t be religious enough to get your way into heaven.
You can’t be Calvinist enough.
You can’t be KJV only enough.
You can’t be loving enough.
You can’t be passionate enough.
You can’t be missional enough.
You can’t give away enough money.
Simply put, you’re not good enough to make it into heaven. And neither am I.
We will never enter the kingdom of heaven. At first glance, that’s the worst news ever. Nothing we do will ever be enough. But a closer look reveals a much better truth.
We will never impress our way into heaven. So we can stop trying. Instead, we must lean on the grace and mercy of the Savior who has given us his righteousness.
You aren’t good enough to get into heaven.
But Jesus is.
And he loves you enough to make a way for you.
But you’ll never see it until you first see your own spiritual bankruptcy.