Crying Man

“Extra Nos” (outside ourselves):

true saving righteousness.

During my Hawaii trip, I flew into Kona to preach at my buddy’s church that Sunday. So, Saturday night before I was to speak, we were hanging out in his apartment community’s hot tub discussing theosis, you know, like normal people… So there was me, my pastor friend Jake, his youth pastor DJ, and his brother, who is also a pastor, Jeremy.

Anyway, we got into this heated discussion (hot tub pun intended) when this older gentleman hopped into the hot tub with us. He had a thick accent that I could not pinpoint at first. He introduced himself as Rudolph, but we were informed that we were welcome to call him Rudy. He asks, “What are you all talking about?” only to find that we were discussing Jesus.

Like a good evangelist, I asked, “Do you go to church anywhere?” fishing to see if he had a relationship with Jesus. Rudolph responded, “No, I am very old, I have seen a lot of evil, I fought in WW2, you know. I believe in God, but organized religion is not for me.”

Being as patriotic as I am, I said, “Well, thank you for your service.” Then I suddenly remembered, Rudy had an accent, and that’s when I asked, “Wait, for which side?” almost interrupting my recognition of his faithful service. That’s when Rudy said, “Well… Early in my childhood, I was part of Hitler’s youth, and I did fight for both sides.”

So, I am sitting in a hot tub with a bona fide Nazi, not a neo-Nazi, I’m talking about an original recipe Nazi. I’m thinking to myself, “This guy needs to meet Jesus and get baptized in this hot tub, because tomorrow is not promised to anyone, and this guy is so old, it’s definitely not promised to him.” So that’s when I started going for the evangelistic jugular. “Rudy, for a guy who has seen so much evil, and even done so much evil, and a guy who believes in God, how do you know that your sins will not condemn you before God when you stand before Him on judgment day?” I say. Rudolph realized that things were escalating quickly, and as people do, Rudolph decided to backpedal with, “Well, I am not a bad person.” I’m thinking, “YOU’RE AN ACTUAL NAZI, how can you NOT ZEE that you are a sinner?” Instead of sharing that thought, I submitted a careful illustration.

“Rudolph, imagine two guys go onto car lots. The first man keys a used 2010 Corolla, the second man keys a 2024 Lamborghini. The first man will get a fine, the second man will be charged with a felony. The action is exactly the same, but it was the value of what they sinned against that determined the consequences of their actions. You think you are a good person because you are comparing yourself to other people, but God does not grade on a curve. If you have sinned at all, you have sinned against God, whose life is of infinite value,” I said. Now Rudolph realized he had, in fact, backpedaled right into a ditch. I wish I could say that Rudy gave his life to Jesus. We talked for over 30 minutes, and it’s my hope that some of our talks were truly convicting and that Rudy will one day soon give his life to Jesus.
But this story so perfectly illustrates how eager we are to judge our righteousness by our own good works and compare our bad work to other people’s bad works. In fact, when I do evangelism, most people say, “At least I’m not a Nazi” or “I’m no Hitler.” It turns out even Nazis can find a way of comparing themselves to someone more evil. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable of two men who go to the house of God; one recognizes their sin and looks to God for forgiveness. The other man thanks God that he is not as sinful as the sinner who is repenting. What is interesting is that Jesus says that the repentant man was the one who went away justified.

So which man are you? Are you one who compares your sins to others’ sins? Or are you the kind of person who sees that you stand condemned when you compare your righteousness to Jesus’ perfect righteousness? Beloved, you may not be a Nazi, but your good works will never be enough to remove the stain of your sin, whatever it may be. We all must look “Extra Nos” (outside of ourselves) for true saving righteousness.

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