Published 11:30 am Saturday, December 31, 2022

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By Michael Brooks
Pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster

It’s taken awhile to get accustomed to the new computer, but I’m beginning to like it more and more. But not at first. My old one was almost 10 years old, but quite serviceable until the case cracked. It lived because of my friends, the geeks.

I’ve always tried to be especially nice to two groups: the cleaning crew and the geeks. The former because who are you going to call when heat or air conditioning isn’t working, or you made a mess that needs cleaning up? That’s not the only reason to be nice to these folks, but it’s good reason to speak to them and to give them a gift card at Christmas.

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The other group is the geeks who know computers. Friendly computerists in our church have added memory and replaced the hard drive, a keyboard and numerous batteries; thus, the old laptop kept humming along. In fact, it still is, though now semi-retired to a lesser workload at home.

But the new computer is smaller and faster, and the keyboard now feels just right to my fingers.

I think there is a spiritual application here about reconditioning vs. replacing.

The heart of the gospel message is that humanity falls short and can’t simply be reconditioned. We try to do good things, and this itself is a good thing. It’s much better to try to be good than to try to be bad! But human goodness doesn’t earn merit with God. The ancient prophet Isaiah uttered a well-known line: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags . . . and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away,” (Isaiah 54:6).

The prophet used strong comparison in this pronouncement. “Filthy rags” can mean medical waste, such as bloody clothing. In other words, something really foul.

So if our attempts to please God with good deeds falls short, what can we do?

This is where the “newness” of the gospel comes into focus. The gospel declares that Christ, who had no sin, died for our sins, and God “inputs” his righteousness in us when we humbly trust in God’s mercy. We don’t “patch up” the old life, but trust God for something entirely new.

The late D. James Kennedy imagined God asking at the gates of heaven, “By what right do you come here?” A typical response is, “See what good things I did.” Kennedy reminded us the only acceptable reply is, “I have no right to be here other than I claim Christ as my savior.”

Augustus Toplady’s familiar hymn lyric affirms this gospel truth: “In my hand no price I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”