This past week Hannah Grace and I went downstairs to the playground considerably later than usual. It was nearly her bedtime, but that seems to be when the other children are out and about. Our upstairs neighbors were just presenting a brand new scooter to their daughter, who also happens to be totally fascinated with Hannah Grace. Something about the long, blond hair--sometimes she calls her Barbie, and other times Rapunzel. Anyhow, our two girls took turns riding the scooter while the mother and I chatted and the dad went off. About fifteen or twenty minutes later, the dad returned with a gift for Hannah Grace. It was a brand new scooter, identical to the one they had just given their own child. As an American, I was speechless. As an American that has lived overseas for years I recovered quickly enough to accept graciously and thank them profusely, and to begin mentally figuring out what I should do in return.
This whole episode has me thinking a lot about good works and salvation. This couple seemed genuinely happy to surprise us with an unexpected, lavish gift. They want our daughters to become good friends, and in their minds the scooter seemed to be an excellent way to make that happen. At the same time, their whole belief system encourages them to stack up as many good deeds as possible to increase their chances of salvation after death.
By all earthly accounts, these are good, moral people. Sometimes we look at people like this and think, "They're such good, likable people. All they need now is to just accept Jesus." Yet, apart from the righteousness of Christ, they are just as sinful as the difficult, hard-to-get-along-with neighbors. How do they come to the point of recognizing that all of the wonderful things they do will never be enough to satisfy God's justice? That they can never tip the scales in their favor? That awakening will only come through work of the Holy Spirit.