For years we Americans have been hung up on records and statistics—particularly in the world of sports. They have become the standards for greatness.
What’s really amazing is that once “unreachable” world records now seem reachable. Some, like breaking the four-minute mile, are now so commonplace we hardly notice anymore. And Ukrainian-born Sergei Bubka beat all the competition at the 1983 World Championships with an 18-foot pole vault when he was only nineteen. After that he added one inch after another, until finally he broke the magic barrier by clearing 20 feet. Before long, that twenty-foot standard will be as big a yawner as the four-minute mile.
What I’m looking forward to is the day somebody can clear 1250 feet . . . something over one hundred stories. I mean, at the rate today’s athletes are going, they’ll probably clear that by the end of this decade, right?
“Wrong,” you answer. “In fact, impossible.” And you are absolutely correct. The height of the Empire State Building? Get serious. It ain’t gonna happen.
Which is exactly the point of a statement that appears in a letter written during the first century: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The spiritual standard God has set for all who wish to measure up is perfection, nothing less. To clear that level calls for a spotless record, a flawless past, impeccable morality, a complete absence of wrong. In plain and simple English, no sin.
Whoever qualifies, please step forward . . . line forms to the right. No one?
Oops, wait a second. My mistake. Seems like there was one unusual man who didn’t “fall short.” As I recall, He claimed to be God, then demonstrated it to perfection. He even promised to draw people to Himself, to forgive their sins, to give them a place in heaven if they would believe in Him.
But didn’t He wind up just outside Jerusalem on a cross? Wasn’t He crucified? He died, didn’t He? Too bad. If He were really God, as He claimed, death would not have stopped Him, right? I mean, He would have come back more alive than ever. And when He did, He certainly wouldn’t have had any trouble clearing the Empire State Building, would He? In fact, He would still be alive today, still drawing people to Himself, wouldn’t He?
Do you wonder whatever happened to Him?
Have I got some good news for you!
The best news is the good news of the gospel.