that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. - Romans 10:9
About 17 years ago when I was still a university student, I wondered what I had to do to earn a place in heaven, or at least to escape hell. This is not a very important question to most people, but it was to me. There was no clear indicator in my life about how well I was doing morally, but I really felt the standards to enter heaven must be pretty high, and that I was not worthy of it, even if I had not done what the world considers terrible sins.
In my mind there was some sort of imaginary ‘criminal record’. A list of many sins I had committed as well as many sinful thoughts, and that list would seem to grow longer ever day. Heaven seemed an impossible place to reach.
A person who was an Anglican vicar at that time explained to his congregation (I attended and served that church) that what Jesus did on the cross - how he suffered and was punished - was that he effectively wiped that list of sins away. He deleted the entire criminal record. And more than that, he made sure that that no more new crimes can be put on that record, as he removed all sins, past, present and future. All we needed to do was believe and desire to commit to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
From there I began to learn that when we now say sorry to God and confess our sins, we do it from a different position, from a position of being already favored and approved. Not from a position of trying to earn favor and approval of God.
It is just like how children apologize to their parents even if they know that sin will not really get them kicked out of the house, or as spouses apologize to each other even if they know the other spouse would never end the marriage just because of that wrong.
We confess our sins because our Lord already loves us and we love him, and our Lord already approves of us (not of our sin of course).
So, anyway, why is it important to know we are approved, favored and saved? Why is it important to know that we are rescued? I feel that people that are saved and rescued are more likely to have a compassion to rescue and help others. And knowing we are already approved by God makes us do good deeds out of thankfulness and not out of a selfish desire to be approved by God.
Jesus conducted his ministry knowing he was approved by the Father, and not trying to gain approval from the Father. As we follow Jesus, let us also do our ministry service with this exact same mindset. It gives us boldness and helps stir the fires that our Lord has already put into our hearts, to serve and love our brothers and sisters, and our neighbors, unconditionally.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus does not tell Peter and Andrew to earn their place by his side, but to `Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.` Matthew 4:19
Lord, thank you for rescuing us. We cannot earn your grace and mercy, and so please continue to remind us that we already have it. Lord place in us your desires, so that we may follow what you want, that we may do what you want done on this earth, that we place you in the center where you rightfully belong. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen. Lord Jesus bless us and Mother Mary endows. Fiat Lux! [Joey/cil]