Article by Michael Goforth II:
Why do you get so angry when your children embarrass you in public? Why do you always have to be right in an argument? Why are you so self-conscious about the way you look? Why are you working so hard at your job?
In his book, Encounters with Jesus, Tim Keller makes the argument that we do those things because we are trying so hard to prove to ourselves that we are somebody, even though on the inside we know there’s something wrong with us.
He uses the famous Rocky Balboa as an illustration. The Rocky films were kind of before my time, but my dad made sure that I didn’t miss out on that staple in our country’s great history. In the first film, Rocky is about to fight the infamous champion, Apollo Creed. He explains to his girlfriend Adrian that he’s not worried about winning. He just wants to put up a good fight. This is how he says it:
“I just wanna prove somethin’ —I ain’t no bum. . . . It don’t matter if I lose. . . .Don’t matter if he opens my head. . . . The only thing I wanna do is go the distance—That’s all. Nobody’s ever gone fifteen rounds with Creed. If I go them fifteen rounds, an’ that bell rings an’ I’m still standin’ , I’m gonna know then I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood. . . .”
After quoting Rocky, Tim Keller says, “I propose to you: One of the reasons you have all these dreams of working hard to look good and do well and achieve is because you are trying to prove to yourself and everyone else, even people who may not be around anymore, that you are not a bum.”
Do you want to hear something really freeing? You are a bum.
You can try to cover that up with your social status, your career, your family, or your success, but in the end, deep down, you know there is something wrong with you.
You are a bum. And so am I. But this is what makes the Gospel such good news.
The Scriptures teach that our first parents were created by God without sin. However, they chose to rebel against Him and usher sin into the world. Since then, we’ve all inherited that sin and we come into the world broken and separated from God. Deep down, we feel this brokenness. So we desperately try to fix it or cover it up. But in the end, we can’t.
God saw us in our brokenness and sin. He saw that we could never fix what was wrong. So He came to this world, and became flesh like us. He lived among us, He felt our pain, He saw our tears. And then, He carried all of our sin and brokenness to the cross and paid for it once and for all.
And do you know what He said at the end? He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Finished. Done. Complete. Nothing left to do.
He rose from the grave to conquer death, and now He offers life and forgiveness to all who will believe on Him. (John 3:16) If you’ll turn from your attempts of justifying yourself, and ask Him to save you, He will. He will join you to Himself by faith and His righteousness will now belong to you.
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,”
No condemnation. No more guilt, no more shame, no more trying to gain the approval of others. No more trying to prove that you, “ain’t no bum…”
God looks at you, united to His perfect Son Jesus by faith, and He approves of you. How would your life change if you knew you had God’s approval? What would that look like for you? Because once you’re in Christ, you have the approval of the only One Who really matters.
I love how Scotty Smith puts it, "Wake up, dear friends, and live today in the knee-buckling knowledge that God loves you as much as Jesus, and there’s nothing you can do about it, but abide in it and live out of such a glorious standing in grace."
You see, in Christ, you don’t have to prove to anyone that you “…ain’t no bum…” because in God’s eyes, you’re royalty. You’re His beloved son or daughter.
So come to Jesus today. He promises to give you rest. Not just temporary rest, but rest for your soul. (Matt. 11:28-30)