Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The ‘Unauthorized Biography’ Tells All

Recently I read this question in a church bulletin: “How do you know that you need Christ as Savior?”

Well, for me the answer is simple. I know that I need Christ as Savior because of my unauthorized biography.

Let me explain. Typically, when a biography is written about a celebrity or sports star, there are two options, “authorized” or “unauthorized.” With an authorized biography, the subject of the book works closely with the writer to paint a rosy picture. All the good things about the person’s life are emphasized and all the bad things are minimized.

However, with an unauthorized biography, the writer does not consult with the subject. Instead, he or she interviews hundreds of people, especially the subject’s enemies, to uncover as much dirt as possible. The book becomes a salacious chronicle of all the nasty and immoral things the person has ever done. Not surprisingly, unauthorized biographies usually sell much better than authorized ones.

A couple of years ago I read an unauthorized biography of John Lennon. I assume most of the book was accurate because I did not hear that Yoko sued the author or attempted to keep the book from being published. While reading the book, I was at times enthralled and at other times disgusted by how selfish and cruel Lennon had been, especially to those who were closest to him. To this day, whenever I hear a Beatles song on the radio, I can’t help but think how unhappy and emotionally unstable he was, behind the carefully crafted image of carefree innocence during the heyday of Beatlemania.

Anyway, getting back to my original statement. I know I need Christ as Savior because of my unauthorized biography. Now, of course, I am not, nor ever will be, a celebrity or star athlete. (Unless the Red Sox finally realize they cannot live without a 62-year-old, left-handed first baseman with a good glove and mediocre bat.)

When I say “my unauthorized biography,” I mean the real story of my life without any rosy-picture editing from me. If a writer spent a full year interviewing everyone who has ever known me, from my high school teachers to my college buddies to my current co-workers—and especially my wife and kids—he or she would uncover a fair amount of dirt. (About 15 dump trucks full.)

It’s true I never did some of the things John Lennon did (or Frank Sinatra or Ted Kennedy or John Belushi or Errol Flynn, etc.), but that’s mostly because of a lack of funds and opportunity. The things I did were bad enough.

By the way, if you’ve been reading this waiting for me to describe in detail my deepest, darkest sins, sorry. That’s between me and the Lord within the Sacrament of Confession.

The point I’m trying to make is this: If I am completely honest with myself, I’ve done a lot of really selfish and cruel things in my life, and caused plenty of pain and heartache for others.

Some people claim that if your good deeds outnumber your bad deeds, then God will let you into Heaven. It’s as if God has a big score card and a pencil and declares, “Hey, you had 4,207 good deeds and only 4,206 bad deeds, so you’re in!!”

Nowhere in Scripture is that idea found. What is in Scripture is this: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” A single, solitary sin will separate us from the holiness of God. All it takes is one.

When I think back on my life, the number of my bad deeds is slightly more than one. (I am using, of course, the definition of “slightly” that means “one million times more.”)

This is how I know that I need Christ as Savior. I’m a sinner and I can’t be holy on my own. The Good News of the Gospel is that God loves us so much He will forgive us of our sins if we truly repent and ask for His mercy.

The other good news is that there are currently no plans in the works to publish an unauthorized biography of my life. (But I am a little nervous because I hear Hollywood wants to do a movie.)

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