I vividly remember the day Kurt Cobain died. It may have been the day after. It was my first and only year of attending a Christian liberal arts college (I would transfer the next year and finish out my undergrad degree at Moody Bible Institute). My roommate had received the USA Today and on the front cover was the news of Cobain’s death. Even as I type this, it is amazing that my spell check is not catching “Cobain.” He has become a part of our culture. I remember that another student walked in and grabbed the paper, read the headline, threw it down and said, “Huh! Good!” I asked him what he meant. He replied, “He’s one less person for Satan to use!” In my immaturity, the only way I knew how to respond was, “You’re one less person for Satan to use!” What I meant, or at least how I remember thinking about it, was that even the believer in their disobedience can steer people toward that which is Satanic rather than that which brings the Gospel to the forefront.
I am reminded of this interaction from so many years ago when there is another tragic death in the world of entertainment or some famous atheist passes. I have a tendency to react in self-righteousness. I have a tendency to say, “Well at least I’m not like…” Whether any of these people are standing before God condemned or not, they and I have the same standing regardless, depending on what we did with the claims of Christ. That is, I only stand rightly before God because Christ is my substitute. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 1:26–29, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (NASB 95; emphasis mine).
This, my friends, says it all! I am nothing without Christ’s righteousness. The best I can bring to God is my sin, and that makes me no better than the most rabid atheist. His public affronts against God may be more apparent, but my sins are no less offensive and are equally deserving of judgement from an eternal perspective. Praise the Lord that Christ is the Righteous One, through whom sins can be forgiven! Therefore, in the words of my younger, less mature self, “I am one less person who Satan can use!” We must submit to God and humbly accept that but for Christ, we are wretches who God graciously saves for His own glory and by the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:5)! I can only boast in Him!