Impossible Earnings

After church this afternoon, we headed over to the quad at the Claremont Colleges to engage the community. While walking around we noticed a guy on his knees, burying his face in the grass every minute or so but we figured he was praying so we kept kept walking as not to interrupt what he was doing. After talking to a few other people, we made our way back over towards he and his family.

The man was extremely polite, eager to share with us about his upbringing, his profession, and his faith. There was no heated discussion, no debate over view points, not even push-back from me when he blatantly discounted my Jesus as a mere man. He went on to talk more about the dedication he has to his faith.

He memorizes his entire religious book. He prays at least five times a day, saying exactly what he is told to and in the same direction he is always supposed to point (yes, direction). He gives of his time and money to those that need it more. He respects others. He worships his god. Then I asked him.

“What happens after you die?” 

“Hopefully I have done enough to earn a good standing with God” he says.

Done enough? Good standing?

How about no chance!

I responded “The Bible says that none is righteous, not one. We all sin and fall short.”

“I serve a merciful and just God” he says.

No matter how hard we try, not matter how much we do (or don’t do), we will never earn one sliver of good standing with God. The same God that has mercy on all must also be just with all. Justice means we all pay for our sins. Thankfully mercy came in the way of Jesus.

Without spinning circles with this man, I shared one sentence.

“Through Jesus, you can be sure of your standing with God”

With that, I thanked him for his time, greeted his wife and kids and went on my way. You see, there was nothing I could say in that moment to get him to feel what I feel.


What breaks my heart is he will go about his life doing everything he can to earn the impossible.

I only pray God changes what my conversation never could.

About Ryan Miller

I am a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus, living to glorify Him all day every day. I am a Pastor at For His Glory Community Church in Fullerton, California . Alongside me at all times is my amazing wife Michelle and my daughters, Alexis and Chloe. View all posts by Ryan Miller

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