One of the most often asked questions about the Christian has to do with why we need Jesus to get to God or heaven. I mean, I am a good person, right? I have never done anything really bad. Or, I do a lot of really good and wonderful things, why wouldn’t I go to heaven?
To be honest, I never had a good answer to that question, or at least one that would satisfy a non-Christian. That is until this past week. Most trying to answer this question would sound nauseatingly preachy, so let me try a “Bill” approach and use the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me. I still cringe to this day, and my stomach is churning right now thinking about it.
Early in my construction career I was building the home for the president of the Pennsylvania Life Insurance Company. It was being built in Malibu and that day there was a hard rain turning the job turn into a quagmire. There were only two of us working so the owner called and asked if we could pick up our checks at his office. His office on the top floor of the Pen-Life building on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile. I explained that the job was very muddy so could the checks be left in the lobby. Just walking up to the building was very intimidating. Fortunately it was still raining hard and making lots of puddles that I used to clean my work boots. Needless to say the professional people avoided us as we purposely stomped through puddle after puddle in front of such a prestigious building. When I felt safe we headed to the lobby. The young woman handed us our checks but then said that Mr. Beyer wanted to see us in his office on the top floor. I couldn’t object so in the elevator we went. When the doors opened up, it was like another world, opulent but not garish. In a word, everything was pristine. This included the plush, pure white Persian carpets stretching from wall to wall.
One of the secretaries pointed us to the end of the expansive hallway toward the corner office some fifty feet away. When we were a little over halfway there, from behind us I heard a woman scream! I knew in an instant it had something to do with us. When I turned around, I instantly knew what it was. Behind us were two sets of muddy foot prints on the pure white Persian carpets. My foot prints were tragic enough and worth the scream by themselves, but my coworker left clumps of mud spreading several inches beyond the initial foot prints. What made it even worse was when Mr. Beyer himself came out of his office, looked down and informed us that the carpets were meticulous cleaned just yesterday.
I expect most of you are cringing along with me, however, that was just top floor of an insurance company. Imagine now if the doors were to open up to the very Throne Room of God. White upon brilliant white with magnificent splendor beyond all comprehension. Not even the minutest flaw of any kind could be detected. Absolute perfection, and most important, the purist of purity. I believe anyone of us, even the most pure of persons you know, by just walking barefoot would leave stains similar to my footprints on those white Persian carpets.
All of the angelic hosts, along with the Cherubim and Seraphim would not even need to turn and look at us to know we were there. All they would have to do is sniff the air. Similar to how the Vietcong could smell the American soldier a long way off; so it would be with even the slightest iniquity of the most pure people we know. It would leave a rotten stench within those hallowed halls. Even with all of our tenacious praying and abundant good works could not make our soiled souls clean enough for that pristine environment.
This is where Jesus comes in. It was no accident that in John 13: 1-17 He washed the apostle’s feet. When Peter objected, Jesus told him, “If you do not let me do this, you have no part of Me.” Peter’s answers was, “Then wash not only my feet but my hands and head as well.” It is not by our incessant praying, or personal sacrifice that gets us clean enough to walk into the Throne room of God. We should turn all of that stuff in and take a good long shower in the Grace of Jesus Christ. It’s only by His grace that we can we be purified enough to not only enter in, but to actually stand in the very presence of God All Mighty. And to do it without shrieking back from embarrassment or far worse.
Whoever thought the most embarrassing thing to ever happen in my life would give me insight into the greatest of all treasures. It makes it all worth it, but unfortunately Mr. Beyer and his secretaries may not agree. Though it is my earnest prayer they would.
As a parting thought: Always wipe your feet and remember to shower in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ every day.