[Ed’s note: I wrote this two years ago. At the time I had no idea that this picture would become part of a compilation called “brilliant answers by smart kids” that would wind up on viralnova, buzzfeed, etc. Now I see the picture everywhere and, occasionally, it links back to here. Thanks to those links, two years later and this post is still getting 5-10 hits a day. Let the gospel go out…]
For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. (James 2:10)
Relate: In college, unless I was the curve wrecker, I hated them. You know who I’m talking about. Lets say you have twenty students in the class and everybody is about average… except for that one girl who has no life. All she does is study every day from the moment she gets home until the moment she leaves in the morning. Everybody else gets a 70 or worse on a test. She gets a 98. The girl is wrecking the curve.
On the flip side are the curve helpers. I love these guys. Once upon a time they showed up for a class. Somehow, they score worse on multiple choice tests than they would if they filled in the answers randomly. When it comes to true or false questions, they flip a coin. Their coin isn’t very lucky. I love these guys. Did I say that already? There is nothing like scoring a 58% on a test and then finding out that is a B-. There must have been a lot of curve fodder in the room.
When it comes to our spiritual life, some people look at those like Mother Theresa and Billy Graham as curve wreckers and Adolf Hitler or Charles Manson as curve helpers. When it comes time to the judgment, I don’t want to be the one right in line after Mother Theresa. I don’t care how good I try to be, she’s gonna make my outlook pretty rough. On the flip side, if Bin Laden’s right in front of me, I think I’ll dance a jig right on the spot.
React: Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. Making the grade into heaven is pass fail. Even worse, the test is incredibly hard. Life is made up of an infinite number of choices. There are hundreds, no thousands of moral questions presented to us each day. We are faced with opportunity after opportunity, choice after choice, decision after decision with how we will live our life. A skipped question counts as a wrong answer so we aren’t just graded on what we did. We are also graded on what we should have done. It gets even worse. According to James, according to God writing through James, the only passing grade is 100%. If we fail on even one question, we have failed them all.
The fact is, passing this test, the most crucial test in all eternity is the next thing to impossible. There is a curve wrecker, it can be done, but only once in all of history. Only one person has ever answered every question right. The rest of us seem to mess up over and over again. I might say, “Oh look I got 52% right and my neighbor Joe only got 49% so I must be doing pretty good.” It’s fun to compare ourselves with the Stalins in the world who are shooting in the low 30’s, not as much with the saints who are hitting in the mid to high 60’s. It doesn’t matter. Even if I were to answer only one of the 33 million questions wrong, I’ve failed. Perfection can be achieved, but I didn’t do it. No amount of correct answers from here on out will change that fact.
But here’s the good news. Right before it was time to turn in our tests, the curve wrecker came to me with an offer. He said we could switch names. He would take my failure, the wrong answers that I’ve earned, and the judgment I deserve and in return He would give me His perfect score. All I have to do is write His name on my life and in return surrender my name (life) to Him. Considering what is riding on this test, I’d be a fool not to take Him up on the offer. What about you? He’s making you the same proposal.
God, I thank You for Your Name. I am a failure. I have messed up time and time again. Holiness is required and I am covered in sin. Perfection is required and I have fallen short time and time again. I’m so sorry for this. I am so sorry and willfully chose to do evil over and over again. Forgive me. I give You my name. I give You my failures and mistakes. In their place I accept Your grace. I accept Your perfection. When people look at me, let them see Your Name shining through.