Imagine a small child playing on a farm and slipping on fresh cow manure, ending up covered in the sticky smelly stuff. Imagine then that the child, distressed by this, runs to their parent for comfort.
As they run toward the parent, arms outstretched, they desperately want to be picked up and comforted and to know that the problem is well in hand, because parents are good at solving such problems. The child knows that all will be well once they get to the parent.
However the parent has seen what happened and the parent does not want to be painted with the stinky sticky stuff that is all over the child.
The child runs to the parent, hopeful and crying, but the parent pushes them away.
That would be a great shock for the child. The child may assume the parent no longer loves them. The child may think their accident has not only made them smelly but unlovable as well.
Do you think the parent still loves the child? Of course the mother and father still love their child. But there is a problem. A stinky problem puts a barrier between the parent and child. No matter how much the parent loves the child, the parent cannot pick up the child in that condition.
That simple allegory reflects our problem with God.
God, our loving creator and the Father of all life, loves us deeply, as the Bible assures us.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” John 3:16
But as we try to approach God we are offensive to Him, by the stink of sin in our lives.
We are not allowed in His presence while we are covered with our stinking sin.
“Your iniquities have shut these things away, and your sins have kept good from you.” Jeremiah 5:25
“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2
People, seeking God, have done amazing things. Not that many years ago young westerners would travel the Guru trail of the East, seeking wisdom to connect them with God. Others have joined works-based religions that have had them out on the street notching up points toward their approval with God. Others have even become missionaries and given up all hope of normal life, hoping God will see their sacrifice and accept them.
Today people try to better themselves with education and self development, religion, philosophy, good works, upholding high standards, giving to the needy and so on.
Their problem is that, for all the good things they do, they bring their stinky sin into God’s presence and are rejected.
We can’t get to God by means of these seemingly valuable things. Those things may be very good to do, but they can’t remove the stinky stuff from our life.
So getting a high distinction in Religion and Ethics, with a Double Major on Philosophy, combined with a gap year at a third-world orphanage, while busily blogging about your high ideals, doesn’t get you one inch closer to God than being a drunken no-hoper.
Just as drowning yourself in drink can help you forget your mess, but not solve it, drowning yourself in your own efforts to please God won’t solve your sin problem either.
Wonderfully God has solved the problem for us.
A loving parent with a stinky child would not leave the child in that rejected state, but would step in and actively solve the problem for the child. They may turn on a hose or carefully lift the child into a pond. They may get a bucket of warm soapy water brought outside, hand the child to someone who would clean them up for the parent (especially if they had servants).
In the same way our loving God is willing to free us from our stinky sin problem, so we are no longer locked out of God’s presence. Sin had to be washed away, and only the blood of a sinless person could do that. So God became human, Himself, and lived sinlessly, to then die and pay for our sins.
Christ died for sinners to set them free from their sin and make them fit for God.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” 1Peter 3:18
“But now God has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence.” Colossians 1:22
“So much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, purify our consciences from dead works, so we may serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14
“In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12
So we are made clean through Christ and are acceptable in God’s presence.
That wonderful acceptance we enjoy, to enter God’s throne room whenever we want, did not come through us cleaning ourselves. We could not remove the stinky sin from our lives. God did it for us by sending Christ to die for us and pay the penalty for sin.
Now our Heavenly Father welcomes us into His embrace when we come running to Him. There is nothing to keep Him from picking us up and being our most wonderful heavenly Daddy.