I hate going to the dentist. To clarify, I don’t hate my dentist – he’s a great person :). But, going to the dentist is NOT my favorite thing; getting the plaque scraped viciously off of my enamel, the saliva pooling up in the back of my throat trying to choke the life out of me and the hygienist trying to have a conversation with you to which you can only reply mmmhmm or uh-uh while all this is going on – HA!
When I have a dentist appointment coming up, I usually start flossing. This past time between appointments I actually did floss sometimes between then and now, but the few weeks prior to my appointment I stepped up my flossing game (not the dance, y’all ;)). I guess I wanted my teeth to be kind of clean, with a little less plaque and be ready to meet the dentist and hygienist.
Isn’t that how it goes? We want to clean up a little, before going to the one who is going to clean and take care of us.
We can view God the same way.
Sometimes we think we have to clean ourselves up before coming to God. We think we’re too dirty, we’ve made too many mistakes, or we have too many issues. So, we quit the bad habits (drinking/drugs/sex/drugs/rock-n-roll…. lying/cheating/gossiping/bad language… you get the point) and maybe even start some good ones (serve the community, go to church, or give money towards a worthy cause).
But, here’s the thing – we do NOT need to clean ourselves up before coming to Jesus. And nothing we DO can earn His love.
Jesus says in his red letters, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick DO need one” (Mark 2:17). In other words, those who have perfect teeth (no plaque, no bleeding gums, no cavities) do not need to go to the dentist. There is NO ONE with perfect teeth – thus the need to go to the dentist. Likewise, there is NO one who is good enough to come to Jesus. Paul says in Romans 3 that we are “all under sin, as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one” (vs. 10). Later in that chapter he says we all have dirty teeth – – not really – – he says, “For ALL (emphasis mine) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (vs. 23). We all have DIRTY TEETH. We are all in need of the GREAT PHYSICIAN (or dentist ;)). The second part of that verse (Mark 2:17) Jesus is saying, “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
You don’t need to clean up before coming to Jesus. In fact, you CAN’T clean yourself up. And that’s ok. Jesus accepts you and me how we are – dirty, plaque-laden, gingivitis, halitosis and all. John 6:37 says that whoever “comes to Me (Jesus) I will never cast out.” In fact, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” HE does the cleansing. In fact, when the Lord cleans us up, we can “be clean… whiter than snow” (Psa. 51:7).
Psalm 46:10 says to “stop your striving and know that I am God.” Stop striving to clean yourself up and let Him do it. Come to Jesus as you are, confess your sin and surrender to Him. Accept what HE has already done for you. He will clean you (forgive you, sustain you, strengthen you, give you hope).