Dandelions, filthy rags, and the Gospel

I wrote this for the newsletter a few years back and recently came across it while in search of another article. I thought I'd share it here too. It is from May 2009.

This past week I decided that it was time to do something about the dandelions.  I wasn't very concerned about the ones in the yard, but the ones in the nicely designed area with beautiful flowers surrounded by wood chips were really starting to bother me.  So I got some weed killer and sprayed them.

I think I made them mad, because after a few days they hadn't died, but instead had multiplied!  I have to wonder, was it really herbicide or was it fertilizer that I sprayed on the weeds?

So it was time to remove them the old fashioned way.  I got out the dandelion removal tool and got to work.  Pretty soon Timmy came along and asked what I was doing.

"Pulling weeds," I responded.

Timmy looked puzzled.  "Those aren't weeds, those are mommy flowers."  And to Timmy, they are mommy flowers.  He often collects them and brings them in for Christine.  I wanted the dandelions out of there, but Timmy wanted to bring them to his mom.

This got me to thinking about something that Martin Luther once said.
If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy.  If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin.  God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.  

I think a lot of people try to present themselves to God as better than they are.  They want to bring their good works to God and have His approval.  But we know from Scripture that our good works are "like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).  It's cute when a little kid brings dandelions to his mom.  It's not cute when a person brings their weeds (their own good works) to God.

One of the blessings of the Gospel is that we can be what we are.  We don't have to pretend to be better than we are, but are free to confess, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."  We don't have to hide our sin from our fellow Christians, but can be honest about our sin because we know that "Jesus sinners doth receive."

Let your sin be strong, so that you recognize your need for a savior, but let your trust in Him be even stronger.  Rejoice in your mighty Savior!   We need not bring our weeds to God in order to seek His approval, for Christ has already won it for us.

Rejoice in the freedom of the Gospel.
Praise God for His gifts to you.
Be honest about what you are...a sinner...so that you can enjoy all the more what Christ is...the Savior from sin.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

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