My New T-Shirt: Your Best Isn't Good Enough
I got a new t-shirt in the mail today. My daughters are worried about being seen in public with me when I wear it.
“Mom! It’s just so…I don’t know!”
I don’t blame them. The shirt is not at all politically correct. It carries the exact opposite message of the throw pillows, coffee mugs, and wall hangings in all the stores. Its message is indeed jolting and counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
But the shirt’s message is true. And it’s the beginning of the best news in the world.
The shirt says, “Your best isn’t good enough.”
In an age that screams “you are enough” this shirt says “nope.”
I love the message, because it’s the beginning of rest. Our faith rests in Jesus, not in our own efforts. Not in our ability to consistently do the right thing.
Jesus said, “It is finished” on the cross and he meant it (John 19:30). Our flesh is weak. But our faith is not dependent on our flesh. It’s dependent on the finished work of Christ. When God sees us, he doesn’t see our weak efforts and failures. He sees the finished work of his beloved Son. You and I who trust in him, are covered.
We live in an age of do more and try harder. Create yourself. Brand yourself. Prove yourself. Document yourself on social media so everyone knows you are enough. It’s a tremendous weight and it’s exhausting.
The reality is, you and I are not enough. We fail and get tired and fall. We’re selfish and we transgress. We all sin and fall short of his glory (Romans 3:23) and our best efforts have rightfully purchased us death (Romans 6:23). In the face of a holy God, you and I will always fall short.
But our good and kind God has not left us to ourselves. He has not asked us to do our best, to try harder, to conjure up our own faith, our own “good-enoughness” to enter his presence. Instead, “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the cross Jesus exchanged our sin for his righteousness.
Our sin for his perfection. Our not-enough for his exactly-enough. I am not enough, but Jesus is. I believe—I receive his gift—his life, his death, and his resurrection (yes!) on my behalf. And in my belief, “[I] have died, and [my] life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
The message of this shirt gives me a depth of joy and peace that cannot be gotten anywhere else. My creator is also my redeemer. He is perfect, he is enough, and he has covered me.
Is there any better news?
I can understand why this counter-cultural message makes my teen girls squirm. I get it. It makes them squirm for the same reason it makes me grin and makes my husband chuckle a little. It’s abrasive. But it declares the truth found in Ephesians 2:4–9:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Perhaps this shirt will give me some chances to have conversations in public. Or at youth group when I wear it there tomorrow. Or just in my own home as I rehearse the gospel over and over to myself and to my own children. I don’t know what this t-shirt might do.
But it’s reminding me, even now, that I do not have to be enough, because Jesus is.
You can get your own shirt here, at ODG Apparel.