Bang! is one of my favorite games to play. I was itching to play this weekend, but time constraints and responsibilities won out. Having been each of the roles at some point, I have decided playing the Outlaw is my favorite as I seem to only win when I am them. Sean Mallory has become one of my favorite characters now that I have learned some of the more subtleties of the game.
I was thinking a few minutes ago, though, how of each of us feels like we are playing some sort of similar role in life. Not that we are out to eliminate the sheriff, outlaws, or renegades, but that we have a secret identity that must be protected. We know what is in our heart and don’t want the competitor’s to know. After all, if someone knew how consistently dark and selfish our thoughts seemed to be at times, they would either think less of us, hate us, or be completely repulsed by us.
Thus, the game continues. We throw fog and mirrors up. We feel bent on justifying ourselves to our parents, our spouses, our employers/employees, our children… whoever has the chance to get a glimpse past our veil. The need to prove why we have the right to exist and that we have something unique to bring to the table elicits actions from us that come most natural. This, interestingly enough, is but a trickle of our problems concerning our need to be right, seen, heard, loved. It is a mere trickle compared to the torrent that drives us deeply into the need to feel as if we have to justify ourselves.
Our lives of justification shows us that there is something out there that demands something from us that we have not fulfilled. The nagging sensation to be in the right comes from a bigger source of discomfort. This source of discomfort comes from our programming. We were wired in a certain way and programmed to live a certain way.
Since sin entered the world, God has moved into contention with men. The Creator, who made man in his own image, has become the looming Judge. His law is all encompassing. No person at any time in any place can escape the immanence of the coming judgment. Our hearts and lives prove this to be true. We are judged by the Judge, but want to be out from under the ax and thus live lives that will hopefully somehow prove to the Judge that we are not as guilty as, say, perhaps someone else?
Unfortunately and fortunately this Judge is Just and cannot be bought off. The Law is the law and its condemning power cannot be undone. Our justifications are futile. We can justify ourselves to those around us and they may be convinced of our “part” that we play and thus withhold judgment. But… the Judge is not fooled and will not be deceived. Our justifications only prove our guilty in the first place.
So what is there that we can do? If our justifications are futile before God, what is it that we need to have this nagging feeling crushed and defeated? We need God himself to justify us. We need God to move on our behalf in his righteous judgment on us.
God, the Holy Judge. How in the world can he let us “off the hook”? How can a pure God let a broken, rebellious image be declared “Not guilty!”? It’s because of someone else. Someone else who had no need to prove himself. His life was blameless before the condemning law. God, the Father, himself approved of this man, his very own Son.
Jesus, the Christ, was guiltless before the Law, but exchanged places with those who trust him, under the penalty of the Law. Jesus was condemned and executed under the judgment of Law, though BLAMELESS. God justified himself by letting sinners “off the hook”, but substituting Jesus’ death for yours and mine.
It in this justification that we will find peace, through faith that what God says is done, is done in Jesus alone. God alone can justify our existence. Trust him! He alone is true.
The next time you play a round of Bang!, I hope you think about this for a second, and in doing so have a moment of peace as you reflect on your great God and Savior.