I was driving home from work the other day with my wife and we were discussing some of our favorite nerdy things. In the course of the conversation, she brought up that her absolute favorite start to a book (ever) was the start of The Voyage of the Dawn Treater by C.S. Lewis. The opening line of the book is, “There was a boy called Eustice Clarence Scrubb, and he almost disserved it.”
It is a captivating start to a novel. It almost feels like one of those ‘try-to-write a whole story with a sentence’ challenges. As soon as you read it, your imagination immediately leaps into action. You begin building a story as to why this particular boy would “almost deserve” such an unfortunate name. Perhaps you imagine his various miss-deeds at school or home. Perhaps, he is simply a brat or a grump. Really, the number of possibilities as to why is only limited by your imagination.
No matter where your imagination may take you, though, you will always find yourself coming back to what the poor boy deserved. It’s a question that many of us as Christians may benefit from if we are courageous enough to ask ourselves. If God was to give us what we deserve, what would we be named?
I think that if we are being honest, our names would be much worse than that of Mr. Eustice Scrubb. The microscope of God’s law has a unique way of showing us just how dirty we really are. Our sin, most of the time, though requires nothing more than the naked eye to discern. If we are to take the Bible seriously, what we will find is that even the smallest of sins leads to death (Romans 6:23). It doesn’t matter if we sin just once, the ledger of our life gets permanently marked guilty (James 2: 10-11).
It is then, very literally, the best possible news that God has chosen to not give us what we deserve. What we deserve is eternal hell-y punishment. What he gives us is the chance to have eternal life. Jesus’ death on the cross was not mere happenstance. It was God’s very intentional way of taking what we did deserve—death and hell—on himself. In becoming a follower of Jesus, we get to trade our eternal death for his eternal life. He takes our sin and gives us his righteousness. That is the good news of the Gospel! Instead of a name like Eustace Scrubb, God gives us the name ‘Child of the Living God.’
My challenge to you is this: do not neglect to recognize your absolute filthy sin in fervent pursuit of the title: Child of God. God didn’t simply forget our sin, he dealt with it. His nature is not to simply look past our sin, it is to stare it dead in the face and bring it to a murky red demise. We will do well to do the same. God’s forgiveness does not make us into perfect people. Most of us still struggle with following him on a daily basis, we sin. It’s a problem. The bigger problem, though, is that many of us take on the title and neglect the battle (Hebrews 12:4). Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us not fail to make war on our sin.