“Are you here to save souls?” I heard myself give a half laugh, “I can’t save anyone, I said.” Even if I wanted to and tried, I couldn’t save anyone! But I am here to tell of the One that saved me. He forgave me for an abortion, saved me out of homosexuality and all kinds of stuff/sin. He is healing me from early childhood sexual abuse and occult abuse and a lot of pain. I can tell you all about Jesus and what He has done for me. He gave me a new and better life. He alone can save. I just tell others of Him.
I felt like I was rambling and was shocked at myself for saying what I said. I looked up to see her reaction and that is when I realized I must have been looking down at the ground when I admitted my past. Yes I still have that remnant shame. It needs gone. Maybe she identified with my looking at the ground. It is hard to admit the worst truths about one’s life, and to see the dirt. Shame is a game changer. It is about time it worked for me instead of against me. Somehow it put us on even ground together. I am not above her but with her and for her. Despite my need for more progress, crocodile tears were streaming down her face. A look of surprise, longing for home and hope were etched in her features. My heart soared with meaning and a desire for redemption; to see someone “know and be known to Christ”, Living Hope.
I was not used to being so frank and quick to tell my worst past to people. I have sat weekly in the same Sunday School class for over 15 years and learned about God, desperate for relief while wearing a mask of why I needed God.
This stranger now knew more about me in the minute exchange we just shared than I allowed my Sunday School classmates in weekly classes for more than 15 years! Add gatherings and lunches and socials and interactions and that is a lot of together time.
Our class was called Koinonia class. It did not fulfil its definition. I could still cry about that fact and reality. It was my unwillingness to be honest with myself. It was my failure to understand the greatness of what Jesus Christ had really done for me.
Somehow I felt more fully alive telling the truth on the streets to a stranger and feeling and sensing God’s Grace than all that time I remained silent and dying inside to believe what the Bible said (during theology classes) when my experience of God’s Grace was so lacking with the people that I wore a mask around.
The Gospel was not the good news to me then as it is to me now.
I am living more authentically and humbly and I am relieved to be out of the straight jacket of religion and hypocrisy that I thought was the Good News.
It was all I knew for years but never seemed enough. I am still learning how to truly live the Good News out to myself and my world. I can still come across and be very religious and obnoxious but I guess it is because I have had so much to forgive it has been hard for me to really believe I can live free, forgiven and fully new not because of what I do but because of what Christ has done.
I am learning and living more in this Good News than ever before and the more I live it, the more I want it for others. Jesus is worth it all. Yes it is work at times to serve and there is a cost but He is worth every bit of anything He asks of me, to know Him, relate to Him, live for Him, receive of Him and be changed by Him and then to share Him!
There is no “Christmas” without the Cross. I read that statement recently. Christ is Holy, Fully God and Fully man and is “above me” in every sense. But He came to earth to be beside me, to prevail against all darkness and sin and then to go below me to take the place I deserved. I thought about it. Jesus could rightfully look down on us. Yet He came to look up to us! He knelt down, went lower than us to serve us! Then Jesus chose to go to the Cross where He took on our sin and was made our sin.
His name is Jesus because He will (and now has) saved us from our sins. Matthew 1:21. He was naked and died on that cross to save us. He completely identified with me and felt my shame. He took the curse of sin upon himself and died in my/our place. He was looking down to us from that cross and saying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He had fully identified with us. Perfect God, Perfect Man had become sin for us! Not in pride of contrast but in perfect obedience to the Father to take the cup of wrath poured out on sin in our place, Jesus was slain as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Father answered His prayer by raising Him from the dead and showing Jesus conquered sin, death, hell, satan and the grave. Christ is Risen.
I say, there is no “Christmas” without the Resurrection. Christ is Life. Eternal Life is found in Him alone. He is with us who believe and have received Him now through that covenant He fulfilled on the cross. The veil was torn, He has entered in. In our hearts He abides. Jesus is with me and for me. He wants to be with us all and is for us all. But we must make a decision to turn to Him and away from the darkness. That is what repentance is. Repentance is a gift of chosing Light in our darkness and turning to Christ, The Light of the World and admitting the Light overcomes our darkness. We then enter into Christ, life and light love and hope ... So many more gifts too..are ours! His presence is a great gift! We celebrate his coming today! He changes our world inside out, starting in our hearts and working in our lives.
At the beginning of this article I described an encounter that happened during the Evangelism Outreach that Restoration Fellowship lead. It occured around noon on Dec 18, 2015. That Eve at Restoration Fellowship, our pastor, Seth preached Matthew 1: 23-25 focusing on Immanuel, God with us!
Way God ministered to the earth ... All we need as a solution to all our problems. (He sent Jesus here to break into darkness with His light and love= my thoughts)
Emmanuel God with us.
God's love is….IS GOD IS LOVE
Clean righteous before Him
Our identity in Him defines us not our past
My past tries to define me constantly. To not let it define me is part of Gospel life. To believe my shame is removed and live like it, is part of the victory of salvation. Yet it is not complete in me. Perhaps I am still in some unbelief here or have too much religion or self works mentality and not enough faith solely in the work of God on my behalf. I don’t know all the reasons I have not fully lived out yet what Christ has fulfilled for me. Maybe it is what it means to work out my salvation with fear and trembling? I am not certain. I do know I fear not living more fully the Truth of forgiveness and the truth of what Christ accomplished. There is much at stake. To fail to live the Truth is defeating and living in poverty when riches are freely offered. I want Christ’s work to define me and really change me more and more. Sanctity.
My past helps me relate to those like I was. Does that make me better? Not better than them in myself. (Yes I am better than I was but not better than others are, in myself.) I am changed. It is Christ who changed me. So, it makes CHRIST’s gift known. It shows His Life in me is better. He did what I needed done. He is still changing me and has changed me. It shows His work. There is no pride in telling my sins. There is awe in His grace by His work. There is awe in His presence. There is awe in His Love and Sacrifice in taking all that sin and its death and giving me forgiveness, life and hope and riches, incomparable riches IN Christ.