When I close the dining room at Wendy’s, I have a lot of thinking time. It’s the only thing I can do to keep myself from going insane listening to cheap love songs from the 50’s that go along the lines of “Wooby dooby chooby baby! I love you like sticks and glue!” The last time I closed dining room,I concocted this nifty little analogy for why works-righteousness (that is,being saved by works) doesn’t work—this too I blame on Augustine.
So why doesn’t it work? Well it’s just like closing the store at Wendy’s. The General Manager has a rule book that he follows and expects the crew to go by. Let’s say,for hypothetical purposes of course, that for one night my job hinges on how well I clean,say,the dining room. Now I know how to close the dining room,and I know how to do it well. So I spend about 3 hours wiping that place down:every window,booth,table,seat,countertop,condiment stand,garbage can, and every scummy tile that is cemented to the floor. The next morning the manager walks in and inspects the place from head to toe (assuming stores have heads and toes). I’m nearly perfect–except I forgot to stock the coffee cups and scrub at dirt that gathers along the strip separating the carpet from the tile. He fires me.
This is why works-righteousness fails. To be so naive as to think that I could build enough merit to work my way into heaven is ludicrous. I could even try and become a monk and live alone in a cave and completely tame my mind until it’s equivalent to a rock and still,when I die, find out there was one minor area I missed and because God’s standard is perfection and I fell inches shy from it,then it’s off to hell I go. This is the beauty of the gospel,in that while my righteousness was “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), Christ died for my sins and rose again and covered me with His perfect righteousness (Phillipians 3:9).
I’ve decided I have enough spiritual lessons learned from Wendy’s that I could make a series out of it…so this is part 1. Part 2 will be “Mean,and Not Heard” and the final part will be “Mercy,Grace,and being Re-hired.” So stay tuned!