Sin and Grace
Lent is usually a time to contemplate temptation and repentance or conversion and transformation. 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 faith and life. Therefore, I would like to explore what it means to face sin, to face our sins, and help others do the same.
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.
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. 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.
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. No huffing and puffing or impossible feats to prove ourselves. 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.
The point 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 a scandal that many question. 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 payment for all sin was made. A way of grace where all are reconciled back to God is open. Jesus made the final and complete sacrifice. Jesus did what no one else could do by his life and death of love and obedience. It is now a reality for all who will trust in Jesus. God in the resurrection shows that everything has changed nothing will ever be the same. The cross is 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. In Christ, we are already home free.
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 have used my social ineptness to prevent me from getting involved in life. I want to live a long, humble, Christ-centered, God-glorifying life. A life that will point many to the love and grace of God found in Christ Jesus. For me Jesus dying for my sins means I can now 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.
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.