Lent is usually a time to contemplate temptation and repentance or conversion and transformation. I would like to take this lent season and explore these themes. I would like to dig deep and offer a few notes on what it means to take the Lent season seriously. Lent can and should be transforming time to seek Christ more deeply and live faith more authentically.
Sin is something I have shied away from. I am starting to see how important it is take sin seriously for our lives of faith. Therefore, this first Sunday of the Lent season I would like to explore what it means to face sin, to face our sins, and help others do the same.
I believe we can take sin seriously without wallowing in negativity. It’s not fun, but it can help us grow. It means acknowledging all the places we fail, fall short of what God desires for us. It means seeing the truth of our shadow side. It means knowing we have done some awful things. The seeing and knowing of our foibles will help us to live better. We’ve all amassed a pathetic chronicle as sinners and proven incapable of living the abundant lives God designed us for and out of God’s all-embracing generosity, he got us out of the mess restored us to where he always wanted us to be, and did it through Jesus on the cross.
This is what Paul says in Romans 3: All have sinned and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Sometimes, I live in ways that don’t reflect God’s love and grace. I ignore others. I want things the way I want them and I don’t want to concern myself with others. I have started to live in more loving and healthy ways, but I am not there and doubt I ever will be perfect at it. That doesn’t give me an out to stretch and push myself to live and love in healthier ways. Quite opposite, it means I must face the areas I am not what I ought to be and push myself to live more authentically. Knowing I am imperfect that I will fall short. Facing this in a mature way will help me grow and not clam up.
Today people deny the need of a savior, they claim that the resurrection didn’t happen—if they affirm the resurrection say that it was some spiritual event not connected to reality. What does that mean! They say that Jesus dying on the cross is an absurdity that violates our modern sensibilities. If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I affirm the need of a savior. This belief is subversive to our individualistic, materialistic culture. It goes against what modern America proclaims from Washington to Hollywood. That doesn’t make it any less true. None of us will ever be able to save ourselves, so why try. We have all sinned and fallen short of all we ought to be, we are not. In countless ways, we fail to do what is good, true, and beautiful.
Jesus saves. That’s our only hope. Jesus’ yoke is light. He doesn’t burden us with a load we cannot carry. Jesus doesn’t demand we jump through impossible hoops or tell us to clean ourselves up first. He accepts us as we are, loves us enough to welcome us no matter what, but loves us way too much to keep us that way. He wants us to live life to its fullest, pay it forward, share the gospel, and make disciples. Jesus is our dangerous, subversive, and untamed savior; the message we spread is not about a group, church, religion or book, but is about the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior.
The point that needs to emphasize is not our sin but God’s awesome mercy in sending Jesus. Justification means that utterly guilty as we are God reckons us, treats as if we were innocent. All have sinned, fallen short and deserve to be treated as such, yet in God there is a different way, a way of grace that sees us and transforms us into the blameless people of God. This is radical, scandal and many question how this can be so. Jesus said it. Jesus told us that God loves us then went about showing us in his life, death, and resurrection that it is so. When we discover and embrace this, it changes everything, our relationship to God and response to life. It revolutionizes our relationship with God, others, and self.
Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection reparation for all sin has been made. A way of grace where all are reconciled back to God is available. Jesus made the final and complete sacrifice. Jesus did what no one else could do by his life and death of love and obedience. God in the resurrection of Jesus shows that everything has changed nothing will ever be the same. The cross makes a way back to a right relationship with God. This is not about going to heaven someday, but about living here and now with and in God.
I need to repent and turn from the old ways of doing things. I regret that I have hurt, taken for granted and ignored people. I am socially awkward, shy and I need to break out of my shell. I have used this to prevent me from getting involved in life. I want to live a long, humble, Christ-centered, God-glorifying life. For me Jesus dying for my sins means I can live a healthy, loving, transformative life that my past no longer defines who I am or who I will be from now on I am a child of God.
God hates sin, but the cross wipes it away. It is grace; nothing we could ever do to earn it. It comes freely to us; Christ paid the price. It’s obvious that God hates sin, when nothing less than Jesus on the cross would satisfy it.
Jesus died for your sins. All the things that we have done wrong—lying to others and ourselves, not helping our needy brothers and sisters, putting food, things, and ourselves before God, willfully hurting others, living in unhealthy and wicked ways—are nailed to the cross and are not remembered anymore. We are free from the guilt of all our wrongdoing, but we still must live with the consequences of our sins. To live with God means living to our fullest and facing the responsibilities that our Christian faith gives us.
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