Nothing breaks my heart more than to see someone who has given up on God because of what I call “Fill-in-the-blank” theology.
“Fill-in-the-blank” theology is when people believe God won’t have anything to do with them because they’re not (fill in the blank) enough. They’re not good enough… or smart enough… or beautiful enough, etc..
The cycle typically goes like this:
- awareness (that I’m not _____ enough),
- trying harder to be ______ enough
- falling short of their self-determined goal
- depression, apathy, and/or despair
Why does this break my heart so? Because nothing in those blanks has anything to do with God’s love for us, and because God’s love (and help) are available especially to the broken-hearted and downtrodden. But don’t take my word for it… see what God has to say about it:
The irony is in the setup. When we really get closer we get to God, most people feel worse… at least initially. At some point in our faith awakening, we realize just how pure and holy God is… and a split-second later, we realize just how much we’re not!
That’s a pretty big hurdle up front. Why would God put that there at the start? Perhaps because if this hurdle were big enough to jump on our own, we wouldn’t recognize our need for God!
Look at the prophet Isaiah’s reaction to meeting the sovereign God:
“Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” (Is 6:5 NLT)
Compared to God, Isaiah sees only filth. But watch what changes him from unclean to clean in following verses:
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”” (Is 6:6–7 NLT)
It’s not what Isaiah does, it’s what is done for him. With guilt removed and sins forgiven, Isaiah goes on to be God’s messenger in the famous passage, “Here I am… send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
Perhaps there is a bit of foreshadowing for another who will come and remove our guilt, forgive our sin, and send us out to be messengers!
The next logical question is, “If we can’t make ourselves ______ enough for God, then what can? And how?
The secret? It’s not what we do, it’s what has been done for us:
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Is 53:5 NLT)
Jesus willingly takes on the requirements of justice that we deserve, but he didn’t. Don’t miss the powerful message here: the one person who wasn’t guilty took the punishment of all who were guilty. Why would someone do that?
When I read the story, I see one sole motive: Jesus’ great love for us.
Jesus fills in the blank.
The Ultimate Question
If we insist that we’re still not _____ enough for God, then we have to come to terms with these concepts:
- Neither Jesus nor God knew what they were doing
- Jesus isn’t enough for us
- And Jesus’s decision to die a painful, shameful death means nothing
My money is on Jesus and God being right, not me.
And if that’s true, then the ultimate question isn’t about whether we’re ______ enough for God. The real question is, “Is Jesus enough for me?”
And if we can truly answer, “Yes!” we will come to terms with this reality: I will never be enough for God… but God living in me will be more than enough.
Be blessed… be loved… and be whole, with no blanks unfilled!
What do you struggle with that keeps you apart from God? What part of Jesus’ gift do you struggle to accept? What causes you to struggle?
Missed Parts 1 and 2 in this series?