Recently we dealt with our need of redemption. By “our” was meant not some men, but all men, with no exception anywhere. We ended by saying that Jesus is the only open door. Are both of those statements harsh and dogmatic, or do the facts say the same thing?
Jesus seemed dogmatic and exclusive in these words—words that made me wince, until I saw He spoke the naked truth: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:1, 9).
“Climbs in by another way” depicts man trying to climb up into the fold “by another way.” That is the attempt to be saved by your own effort, by your own climbing—it is self-salvation. As I have said elsewhere, there are only two ways to try to find God. One is to try to find God by climbing the ladder rung by rung, to be able to meet God at the topmost rung of worthiness. You do this by your good deeds, your disciplines, your meditations, your attendance to duty. This is the egocentric attempt at salvation. The other way is God-centric salvation, where God comes down the ladder to us by Incarnation and meets us, not at the topmost rung of the ladder of worthiness, but at the bottommost rung as sinners. Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17).
At the bottom-most rung we are humble enough to receive salvation as the gift of God. We do not attain salvation—the egocentric attempt; we obtain salvation—the God-centric offer. To climb up another way is to reject God’s coming to us in favor of our coming to God. In other words, we make ourselves God and thus become thieves and robbers—robbing from God and ourselves.
O God, we reject Thy redemption of us in favor of our redemption of ourselves, and we end not in salvation, but in futile, tense striving, increasing the bondage we are supposed to cure. Forgive us. Amen.
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY
Self-redemption is self-deception—God alone can redeem.