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The title of this article almost guarantees that 99% of the general public will not even read this first line. The phrase (at least in Western society) is so over-used that virtually everyone has heard it before, and they have either consciously rejected the truth in it, or they have missed the truth in it because it came through lips that had little genuine appreciation for it themselves.

I know that, from the early days of the Jesus Christians, I steered away from such phrases, not because I did not believe in them, but because I felt that everyone had heard them, and that there were other aspects of the Christian message which had NOT been heard, and which needed to be heard as well. I emphasised the teachings of Jesus and, in particular, his instructions to his followers on how we should be living our lives.

I discovered amazing truths, and I have spent my whole life trying to get others to heed those truths. There has been fierce opposition, much (if not most) of it coming from the same people who would proclaim most loudly the message contained in the title of this article.

However, now that I am advancing in age, I have also come to recognise that, despite many years of sincere effort to obey the teachings of Jesus, I fall pitifully short of having done that.  And I look at others who have been influenced to proclaim those same teachings and I see that they too fall pitifully short.  There is nothing wrong with the teachings of Jesus, and we must never forget that.  Ultimately, God wants all of us to be putting them into practice in our lives, even if we do fall short of perfection.  But somewhere along the line there needs to be an honest and humble recognition of just how far short of that perfection we fall, and of just how much we need something supernatural to boost us over the bar which Jesus has set for us.

And that is where we come back to the proclamation that Jesus has died for our sins.  Those words may be overworked.  They may have become a glib cliche to many.  But the truth contained in them is still the door to eternal life… another overworked cliche.  We need to start and finish with (and repeatedly return to) a recognition of our own unworthiness and of God's infinite love in Jesus.  Even after doing everything he could to impress upon the world that what he was teaching was great news… truths that would set us free… he went further and allowed himself to be tortured and killed to achieve some kind of cosmic miracle that would forgive us for STILL missing the truths in what he taught.

His forgiveness is not an excuse to disregard what he taught, as so many have done to their eternal shame.  He truly did teach how we could enjoy life in all its fullness.  But he has this miraculous and mercifully loving way of making up the difference for any who would TRY to accept what he taught, as long as we can accept (and never lose sight of) the fact that we have fallen short.

Something that I have recently observed about truly accepting my own sinfulness and God's gracious forgiveness is that the message of the cross is the same regardless of whether it is coming from the mouth of a Jesus Christian (or even a graduated Jesus Christian) or whether it is come from the mouths of those "churchies" whom we have so often spurned.  They MAY be saying it insincerely, but ultimately only God knows.  For they may also be struggling with truths in the teachings of Jesus in much the same way that we ourselves do continually.  Without God's all-wise perspective, all that we can say with full confidence is that we ALL have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.  Yet in his mercy, Christ still died for us.  If only we would reach out and accept that forgiveness, and rejoice with others who have done so as well!

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