If you have been in our congregation for any amount of time or you’ve taken a careful look at our liturgy, you know that we make a big deal out of the Law and our sinfulness. Our sermons make constant reference to our sin and guilt, and we constantly are seeking to understand the work of Jesus in light of it. Why is this the case, since many other churches have chosen a more positive, upbeat message? Isn’t this a recipe for depression and low self-esteem?
Imagine this situation. You walk into the hospital with your sick friend. You’re not feeling bad or anything, but after the doctor walks in and sees you, and gives you a little white pill. He tells you to take it with a glass of water. You don’t need a follow-up appointment or anything. You simply leave, and you’re healthy. In fact, you feel just as good as you did before – no better, no worse. Now, let me ask, “How do you feel toward that doctor and the little pill?” I’m sure you’re not upset he gave it to you. It didn’t hurt you or anything. And you’re probably a little relieved that you may have avoided some sort of illness. But without a greater understanding of your condition and what that doctor was doing for you, you can’t really be that grateful. Now, what if you learned that the doctor recognized that you had a disease that’s a silent killer – that if you hadn’t received that pill then and there, you would have died within the week. Not only that, the disease is genetic, so you’re now able to ensure that your children are treated. Would you feel any differently toward that doctor and his treatment? Of course. You’d be unspeakably grateful.
This is what we’re doing when we focus so much on our sin and guilt. If we don’t understand our condition, we cannot be truly grateful for our salvation. And we can’t take our focus off the disease and focus on the hospital gowns, the color of the wallpaper, or the elevator music that lifts our spirits. The gospel addresses our disease, and our physician, the Lord Jesus, has come to conquer Satan, sin, and death. He has not come for peripheral matters. Put in another way, if you want to love Jesus, you need to know the depths of your sin, because it is only then that you can truly understand His love and grace for you.