I used to be a very negative person. I saw the glass half empty. I prepared for the worst and never expected the best. I never felt a sense of peace or contentment. Although I still struggle with some negativity, I have rid most of my life of its presence.
I prefer to speak of possibility, hope and expectation. My life's passion is empowering others to recognize their inner strength and to dedicate their lives to serving God with the gifts and talents He's provided them with. We all come with negative baggage but my dreams are filled with being a part of God's redemption story in others.
Over the years I've grown tired, perhaps even angry, at the amount of Christians who preach the "you are a horrible sinner and are going to die" sermon to unbelievers, as if that would motivate someone ridden with guilt, confusion and pain, to come into the loving arms of the Christ I know. We all know the reality; we are sinners, we are going to die, we go to hell without Christ. But shoving that in someone's face who hasn't experienced, or even knows about the grace and mercy Christ offered us on the cross, can only leave someone feeling as if they don't deserve a love like that anyway.
Through time, God has molded me into the kind of person that extends grace and forgiveness pretty easily but lately, I feel like He has been reminding me of the reality of who I still am as a human. I've talked in several posts that God has been sharpening my character, so painfully sometimes, that I wonder how I could ever change a certain aspect of who I am so drastically. And it is just as true today.
As much as I loathe hearing one more pastor or warrior of the faith preach on our inherent evil, the reality of it is still truth. If, as believers, we ever forget that at our core we are simply just sinners and think we are past the trials of the flesh, I think it is just as dangerous as living in a state of self-pity and self-loathing over our evil heritage. Because of the state of hearts, an innocent and blameless man died a brutal death as the only atoning sacrifice to reconnect us with God. If we ever forget that, it makes what He did for us, cheap.
A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling especially proud of myself and all that God was allowing me to be a part of. I even went as far as to reminisce on the person I once was and what a stark contrast of that person I am today. As I was journaling, amidst words of hope and excitement, out of nowhere I began to write these words;
"You sacrificed for me. You died for me. Not just a simple death. But a brutal death. You knew it was going to be this way and yet you did it for ME. You saw my face in the crowd, you looked into my eyes as I scoffed at you. As I spit in your face and called you names. As I mocked your crown of thorns and laughed at the blood dripping down your face. You met my eyes, in all your suffering, and whispered to me, 'I love you, child. I'm doing this for you.' And you'd do it again, to show me over and over how much you love me."At the end of writing the last words, tears were streaming down my face. It was as if my soul had forgotten the reason I am who I am today. The reality of who I once was, and the person I still am, reminded me that everyday I can live, if only for God's grace and to extend that grace to others.
The difficult balance of being proud of the people we've become because of Christ and the reality that we were destined for an eternity of damnation should create just enough tension to keep us humble. But in fact, somewhere along the line we cheapen the sacrifice Christ made by boasting in what good people we've become. At the same time we also cheapen the sacrifice Christ made by dwelling on the innate evil within us, canceling out the fact that through Christ we were made a new creation.
We are a new life, a new creation. This gives us the motivation to share this Hope and this Future with others, especially those who don't feel they could ever deserve it. But we need never to forget the sacrifice that was made on our behalf that gave us this Hope and this Future that we now possess.
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." -Ephesians 4:22-24