Three people were driving in their vehicles long before the invention of mobile phones. All of them were on time to get where they were going. All three of them had the misfortune of a flat tire.
The first person knew he had no jack so he just pulled over and hoped someone would stop to help him.
The second person got out and found his jack handle behind the seat of his pick up. He crawled under the back and tried to remove the spare tire from under the box but could budge the bolt securing the tire in place. Defeated he sat on his tailgate hoping someone would stop and help him.
The third person knew exactly what she was doing. She got the jack out, the spare tire out, and went to work. She loosened the nuts on the flat tire and began to jack up her car. She removed all the nuts and then the wheel. As she began to lift the spare in place the jack suddenly twisted under the weight of the car and collapsed. Jumping back to avoid any danger of being pinned under the car she sat dejected and defeated. Her car was now sitting on the ground with her only jack twisted and mangled and jammed under the weight of her car. All she could do now was sit and wait.
Romans 3 may have some verses here and there that seem hard to understand but don't miss the forest for the trees. 3 chapters have built to this point. We are about to discover that God does have a line in the sand, a standard. He even does something that in our politically correct culture is taboo - He classifies people.
The difference between His class distinction or His putting people in boxes is that there is only one class and only one box. It is a famous verse that anyone who has been around the Bible at all knows or has heard. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". Another verse says "None is righteous, no not one."
Jesus told a story about two men. I mentioned one of them the other day. Here is the story: Luke 18:11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’"
Here is Jesus' analysis of the prayer: " 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
You see in truth there is only one class of humans. We are all sinners. We may have different desires and we may classify ourselves differently based on those different desires. At the end of the day we are all the same. However as Jesus points out in this story we don't see it that way and we end up in two categories. Those who think they are good and those who know they are not.
Let's come back to our three people sitting on the side of the road with flat tires. Picture the last one who had everything she needed and knew what to do with it. How easy would it be for her to think herself better than the other two? She had all the gear. She knew how to use it and was strong enough to loosen every nut. "Thank you Lord that I'm not like the idiot that carries no jack or the wimp that can't loosen a bolt. I carry all my tools and have the knowledge and ability to use them."
Yet there she sits in the same position as the other two. Some might even recognize she is in the worst position because her car is sitting on the ground.
Now suppose someone comes along and successfully gets all three back on the road. To whom goes the credit? See we are not going Home based on our ability or our resume. No matter how we may judge ourselves compared to our neighbour we are all in "the same boat", Jew/Greek, male/female, poor/rich, gay/straight or otherwise. My sins may be different than yours but they leave us all in the same place, in need of help.
Help has come. Do you believe Him? Do you trust Him? Will you embrace the Gospel of His grace that both exposes our brokenness yet repairs everything?
See you tomorrow