These days, as I’m tooling along with the Glory book, Romans 3:23 is a pole star, drawing attention and offering guidance:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
I’m wondering if focusing on the first part of this verse tips us toward telling the story in terms of failure and judgment. There seems to be a fair bit of guilt along with a quickness to condemn, in one way or another, among us: but why? Why do we get pressed by a sense of not doing enough (which leads some to labor under a notion of perfectionism); why are we quick to point out faults and short-comings in others around us? Is it possibly because we think too much about sin, and falling short?
The second part of Paul’s assertion leans in a different direction–it’s like Paul is saying that the really lamentable thing about sin is not that it makes you a failure, but that it leaves you in want of glory. In other words, it’s not that there’s something bad at the core of your life that’s making you fall so much as what’s really good is missing. Not that I’m wanting to be ‘soft’ on sin–and probably I need to rephrase this so that it’s not so much of an either/or–but rather that I’m wanting to recover an emphasis on glory.
The story told in these terms sounds something like this: what’s good is missing, but attainable–because God, who is full of grace, is a seeker of the lost and committed to restoring what He finds. That sort of story puts an emphasis on compassion and creativity, features of the Gospel worth remembering and incorporating in what we say, and how we live.