So much has happened, and so much has changed in the last year of my life. Not all of it has been measurable, but I have changed more and developed more inside than I thought possible as an adult. I have given much to God, and God has not only proven to me His amazing provision, but shown to me His unending love, forgiveness, and grace. I have fallen more in love with the Savior than I had been since I was a young, innocent child.
Though I understood that there was forgiveness of sin, and I understood that God theoretically forgets our sins when we ask forgiveness, my human understanding had difficulty comprehending what that meant for me.
In the lack of understanding I have had over this matter, I have allowed past sins to put a wedge between me and Jesus. I have allowed the shame to burden my heart and keep me away from God. Who am I to ask anything of Him when I have made so many mistakes? Who am I to ever get any good gift from Him; I have sinned over and over and is there really any hope? I had gone through this endless cycle of listening to Satan’s lies about who I was: the Devil’s definition of what made me up on the inside. This can only lead to despair, hopelessness, and dread.
What I went through this year caused me to finally understand: finally let go. I don’t have to be perfect or have a perfect past (yes we already know these things, but treat ourselves like all is lost once a big, never-able-to-be-undone, adult sized mistake occurs.) God loves me so much without my perfection, or, should I say, despite my imperfection. You see, Christ died for this: for you and for me, because GOD KNEW we could NEVER measure up to perfection. Anything that is “missing the mark” is sin (It is an archery term): anything less than a direct, on the mark bulls-eye.
Since none of us can ever go through life without messing up, God had to make a way for us to be with HIM. He loves us SO SO much. He does not want to see any of us perish, but hopes we all receive eternal life with Him. The only way to make us perfect would be to take away our sins, our mess ups. The only thing that could is something that is perfect in and of itself. God sent Christ Jesus down to earth in the form of a man, born of a virgin. He willingly lived as a man on this earth, making a living by carpentry, and then as a scriptural teacher that many followed, and many jeered. It was not an easy life. He worked hard, he went through exhaustion, frustration, felt lonliness, and hunger. He knew friendship, and also the pain of rejection from those who made fun of him. In all his life, he never sinned. He then gave his life up willingly to cover the sins of you and me, and allow the FATHER in heaven to see us each as sinless. He can look at us through the blood of Christ, and our sins are made clean. We are no longer slaves to sin, but heirs of God through Christ.
How should we behave, then, since we have accepted this salvation through Christ? The Bible has a lot to say about that, but I will summarize.
Should we use our liberty in Christ as permission to sin? Should we continue sinning and just allow God’s grace to keep covering it for us?
NO! (read Galatians 5) we should live by the spirit, and feed the spirit.
Should we continue to live like those around us? I mean there are some things that are just “normal” now. Everybody I know in the church does it so they are allowed, right?
Peter warns us, though, to live in such a way that our unbelieving neighbors cannot bring an accusation against us even if they tried. How many of us live such a life pursuing what is righteous and good in God’s eyes?
We are instructed to live as the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. How do we do this if we do what everyone else does?
I call you, my Christian brothers and sisters, to stop living as the world lives. Clothe yourselves in righteousness and purity. Let go of things in life that are hindering your relationship with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not take part in activities or listen to music, or watch movies that dull your senses so that you cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart.
As much as is possible, live at peace with your neighbors, but do not be ashamed of God and his ways if it comes down to it. Be the embodiment of grace to those around you. Show God’s love to everyone. Read your Bible, spend time in prayer and fasting, sing the praises of our Lord.
The title Christian means Christ-like or like-Christ, and although we cannot achieve it perfectly, we should strive towards this goal as if in a race. We should not give up just because we “messed up so its too late anyway” or “its too hard” or “everyone does it so whats the problem?!”
We should always strive to be more like him, to show his love to the world around us:
If someone cuts us off on the road, don’t lash out. If a waitress or waiter are not on the top of their game, show them grace and kindness anyway. If the boss at work seems to be dulling out an unfair work load, smile and do it to the best of your ability. Go out of your way to do good. The world won’t understand, but you will do great things for Christ. Small things add up.
You would be amazed how much