Recently, I came across this video of George Bernard Shaw. It is disturbing. This is what he says:
You must all know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world, who are more trouble than they are worth. Just put them there and say, “Sir, or Madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence? If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat, if you’re not producing as much as you consume, or perhaps a little more, then, clearly, we cannot use the organizations of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.
The example is a bit extreme. Shaw isn’t far off from the Nazis here. But he says quite straightforwardly what too many of us believe implicitly: we somehow have to prove our worth, to make something of ourselves, to show that we aren’t a waste of oxygen. Whether to our bosses, our parents, ourselves, or to God, we all at one time or another feel the need to justify our existence.
To this, God simply says, “No.” He gave a cosmic, everlasting, “No,” to the human quest for self-justification in the cross of Jesus Christ. On Good Friday, God proclaimed to the world that all the justification we need was won for us at Calvary.
In response to our natural quest for self-justification, Tim Chester writes:
There are acts that look like good works, but in fact they reflect a belief that the best way to get into God’s good books or to prove myself to others is through what I do. I declare myself to be a better savior than Jesus. We think we must finish what Christ left undone. That’s why Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). There’s only one thing God wants us to do: have faith in his Son. Everything else will flow from that.
Christ won redemption for us at the cross, and in the resurrection he offers the eternal hope of renewed life in him. There is nothing in the gospel for us to do. It is an announcement of the historical fact that Christ has done all. We have only to trust in him to receive his all-forgiving, all-justifying grace.
God is gracious. We don’t have to prove ourselves.