I read an interesting passage in the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis that holds a lot of truth:
When he goes to his pew and looks round him he sees just a selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided… Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quiet easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.
Many find assurance by looking at others’ fruit and patting themselves on the back because they think they are doing better. Or they may view other Christians as hypocrites which causes them to doubt their own walk. Both are bad, but I personally have struggled with the latter. As a youth, I would see my Islamic friends dedicate themselves to prayer or see Jehovah Witnesses knocking diligently on doors, and then would begin comparing them to my fellow believers—going to church and then having no problem being a cheerful sinner from 2:00 p.m. onwards on Sunday, when church might normally end, until bedtime the following Saturday. It bothered me.
It would also bother me to read about people who where unbelievers, doing more good deeds than the “Christians” I knew. Why be a hypocrite? Why even try? Those were the thoughts that floated through my head. That and what if Christianity is not true?
Solus Christus saved my life.
It is the fact that I am saved because I am in Christ and not because of any other factors. Hearing God’s law properly preached to me revealed, “Yes, my neighbor is a hypocrite, but so am I,” enabled me to love my neighbor. We all need Christ! Grasping that it is Christ who saved me fully, allowed me to be honest about my own sin and my neighbors short comings. Yes, I mean fully. Christ did not just walk into my wretched heart and point me to exit, or leave directions for me to use—Jesus came into my wretched heart put me in a headlock and dragged me to safety. Knowing that I don’t tithe fully or that others give to charities more, or even that others are more loving does not mean God loves me less. Faith in Jesus is the key and it is all that matters.
And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
I always struggled with the concept of “if God has always been God and is never changing,” how is it we are saved by faith in Christ, but the Jews were saved by other means? Once I learned that Solus Christus was their means of salvation also, it rested my weary soul. The promise in Genesis 3:15 is the object of hope for the pre-Christ people. The only difference is their faith was in anticipation and ours is in his completed works. Christ has always been for us, with us, and rescuing us.
God coming to earth as man, his perfect life, resurrection, substitutionary atonement at Calvary, is the cornerstone of our faith (Eph 2:20). He not only nailed our sins to the cross, but imputed his righteousness to us. So when the Father looks at our filthy, sin ridden, corrupted, prideful flesh, all he sees is his perfect Son and his obedience covering us. The beautiful and glorious exchange. It is Christ alone that saves. Not how much better you feel than your neighbor, not the number of homeless people you gave a dollar to, or anything of your own means—it’s just Jesus the Christ!
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Grace, Peace, and Mercy to you!