Feelings are scary to me. I like to bypass them when I can. In other words, I am twenty-two and am slowly learning how to express my feelings healthily. Logic on the other hand is captivating in my eyes. I love following theories and understanding the reasons behind unfathomable concepts…well, trying to at least. Logic makes sense. It’s natural.
The history that has further proved the gospels, the moral law argument that points to Jesus, the archeological findings that have never disproved the Bible, the understanding that even the “big bang” theory points to a Creator, our more advanced understanding of hallucinations and how Jesus could only have appeared to 500 people at one time by His resurrected body, and everything else more on the logical, historical and scientific side of Christianity is scarcely credible. I distinctly remember a time when I was deep in the evidence that proves and disproves the Bible; the feeling of being overwhelmed in the assurance that Jesus is who He claims to be was expressed only in a dramatic, breathy, and teary thought: My God. Two simple words that changed everything. Even today as I read these new views of this universe, it makes the Christian God just that better. Jesus changes everything.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I am spoiled. I am spoiled because Christianity is easy for me to understand and I say that while humbly admitting that a lot of the Bible goes way over my head. Even the stories that I have heard thousands upon thousands of times, the Holy Spirit convicts me every single time. But let’s not get off track – Christianity is “easy” for me to follow. Let me explain.
I am not a pastor and will never have the credentials to be one. I am a runner. I am a weight-lifter. I am an engineering student. I also happen to be someone that reads the Bible and identifies as a Christian. Take everything I say with a grain of salt and anything sharable, man, give God the glory. This is woefully oversimplified but I would break Christianity into three main realizations:
- IT HAS ALWAYS POINTED TO JESUS, EVERYTHING: Understanding that Jesus is the Word. Understanding that it was God who created the heavens and the earth. It is Jesus who has been there since the very beginning, even the Old Testament. (See the opening passage of John 1, see the book of Hebrews, see Colossians 1)
- JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS: Understanding that Jesus is the Savior of the world. He so loved the world and He loved us first. Though we are broken and have all sinned against God, it is through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus that we can be saved. Through His death and resurrection, may we be saved by confessing that Jesus is Lord above all. (The beginning of Ephesians 2 and all of Romans 5 are a snippet of this idea)
- YOU ARE WASHED CLEAN AND MADE NEW: Understanding that because we are saved by grace and through faith in Jesus alone, we look to please God in all that we do. Though being tempted to wander and tempted to sin against God, we have been made new and because of the gift of eternal life, we seek to be like Jesus as we go about our Christian lives. (See Ephesians 4:17-32)
I am spoiled because two out of three “parts” of Christianity naturally come easier to me: one and three. I enjoy science and analyzing the Christian faith with an evidence-based outlook is quite enjoyable. It is not challenging to believe that Jesus is who He claims to be when there is clear biblical and non-biblical evidence that exists. For three, I am your bland and boring rule-following Christian. I like clear instructions and guides. Practical applications are my friends. Number three, the concept itself is nothing I question. “Oh, there is a God who loves me and He wants me to live my life a certain way? Okay, sounds good. What you say, I’ll do, because I believe in who You are and I cannot see this world without a Savior. Cool, sounds good, Jesus.” Again this is grotesquely oversimplified, I say “I get” but really I should say “I slightly understand a tad bit better”.
But that’s not your story…
The part of Christianity that I constantly find myself not “getting” is part two. There’s an emotional hurdle that I would rather crumple and stuff deep under my bed instead of trying to understand. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus died for my sins. Jesus, the God of the universe, the One who knows every part of me including all of my wrongdoings, He died for me by choice.
If I was famous I can assure you that I would’ve been “canceled” by now. You will find some nasty and shameful things about my past. I am absolutely far from perfect, but the One who has been with me since the beginning, the One who has seen me at my absolute worst. He died for me so that I could be given the gift of eternal life through accepting Jesus as my Lord, which seems wrong. It does not feel just.
Why can’t I wrap my mind around this? Why is this the part of Christianity that I try to bypass? The unbelievable grace and preposterous forgiveness of Jesus are completely radical. Nothing about it is logical and that is why it drives me insane. Does that speak to you, friend? If someone knew everything about me, how could they ever forgive me? Is that what is stopping you from believing?
“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-25
“I don’t get it, God. You know my past. You know my future. You know every part of me that has sinned and fallen short, why on earth would you forgive me? Why? You know I’m a bad person. Why?” I cannot wrap my mind around why Jesus would not just give me what I deserve: death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). It’s easy to follow the rules, but it is impossible to not sin. I am a sinner, let that be known. Every day I am prone to wander, leave, and grieve God’s heart. No matter how good of a day or week I am having; I fall short. Jesus, how could you forgive and continually forgive a wretched person like me? I fail to emotionally understand that.
Sometimes after a crummy day, I look at myself disgusted. I look at myself and think I am suffocating in this blanket of shame. Sometimes I look at myself and think about all of the wrongs I have done. I think about all of the hurt I have caused to myself and others. It’s mortifying. Filled with shame, but made pure and washed clean through Jesus alone. He has forgiven me for my past, my present, and the future sins I will commit. Jesus changes everything. He loves me. He loves you. Do you believe that, friend?
Friends, I don’t know where you are in your faith. If you’re like me, maybe the emotional hurdle of the inconceivable forgiveness of God is a major roadblock, hey, I’m right there with you. I cannot fathom this unconditional love that Jesus has for me. I do not understand why He would extend me grace for the things I have done and the sins I constantly struggle with. I do not know why He would forgive me. I don’t get it and it’s frustrating. And let me be clear, it is not the unbelief but the inability to comprehend. Oh boy this is unpleasant, but this is the best thing I can come up with for right now, it would be like running over your dog. Yes, let’s go with that. You are driving along the freeway, going at 75 mph, and oh hey, your dog is also somehow on the freeway. Doggo goes to cross the road, you hit and run over the poor dog, and as you stop and pull over, you see your dog get up unharmed and continue crossing the road. There is no question about what happened. You saw your dog. You saw yourself hit and run over the dang thing, yet the fact that your dog did not die is incomprehensible. There is no question that you hit your dog yet the fact that doggo did not die is absurd. That’s how I feel about the forgiveness of God. I get it. I’ve read the Bible yet I fail in my ability to understand what it means to completely know somebody and still choose to love and forgive them. That is unexplainable. Why, God, why would you choose to forgive me? Also – thanks for sticking with my poor analogies.
I love the evidence for God but I have deeply overlooked the emotional understanding of who Jesus is and what that means. Friends, in a world where we celebrate cancel culture, in a world where we must hide our past, in a world where we hope we hit “delete history”, in a world where people have walked out in our lives because of the intentional or unintentional hurt we have caused, you are forgiven. Your sins are forgiven. Repent, turn to Jesus, accept Him and let Him transform you. Let Jesus change everything. You are loved fully and completely by Jesus. He loves you because He chooses to. He forgives you because He wants to. He has given you the gift to eternal life, would you repent and accept Jesus as your Savior? Let Jesus change you.
My friend with an unforgivable past, if we were not in the middle of a pandemic, I would look deep into your eyes, grab your hand, and tell you that Jesus loves you and He died on the cross for your sins. You are forgiven regardless of how terribly you have messed up. I know what culture says. I know the reputation Christianity has. I know that this concept of Jesus is Lord is kind of weird. I know. I know that you wake up every day with guilt and shame for your past, but you are loved forevermore by Jesus. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. Repent for your sins, accept Jesus as your Lord, and let the Holy Spirit work in you. To my friend that needs to hear this, He loves you and you are forgiven. Come and be saved.
I know it’s easy to skip over the Bible verses but could you please, just reflect on this passage as you go about your day? If the Lord is calling on your heart, today is a wonderful day to give your life to Christ.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[c] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” Ephesians 1:3-11