I took my wife to see the movie "Fun with Dick and Jane" last night. Although the movie was funny. I think it was tragic at the same time. The film opens with the quintessential American dream with the beautiful house, cooshy job, fancy car, and even a full time housekeeper. I think the only thing Dick and Jane lacked was the white picket fence. Dick and Jane were the typical keeping-up-with-the-Joneses kind of family. That is, until their world came crashing down when the company that Dick worked for went belly-up in a corruption scandal. After prolonged failures to rectify their situation, poor Dick and Jane had nowhere else to go but a life of robbing banks and convenient stores. Although Dick and Jane are partially redeemed in the film by tricking the greedy, corparate fat cat ex-CEO to start a 400 million dollar pension fund for ex-employees, the film leaves you with the impression of moral superiority of Dick and Jane over their ex-boss. I couldn't help but leave the film and think to myself "Sure, I'm glad all their coworkers got their pension checks, but what about all the people they had wronged by robbing the banks and the mom -and -pop shops? "
I think it is a common idea that good deeds can somehow cancel out bad deeds. Although this might make sense to us fickle-minded humans, in God's eyes, that is pure nonsense. The Bible says that "all of our righteousness is like filthy rags" to God (Isaiah 64:6) Because all of us have sinned before God, none of us really have the right to proclaim our own goodness in His sight. That is like saying that Dick and Jane are good people because they tricked their boss into giving them a pension fund even though they had stolen tens of thousands of dollars themselves from other people. Although our sins might not seem like a big deal to us, they are to God.
Here's the good news. God has this funny habit of loving us anyway. I'm not sure why, but God seems to be obscessed with showing us how much He loves us in spite of our bad behaviour. Perhaps this is why Jesus preferred to hang out with hookers and drunkards over religious people. Religious people tend to trivialize God's grace by thinking that they deserve it in some way. The other side is that many sinners tend to abuse His grace by disregarding God's rightful claim over their lives. Both are serious errors. The true way is to accept God's free gift of grace and to allow Christ to transform us into everything that we are meant to be. It might be the narrow way, but it sure pays off in the end.