2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NIV
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This past week we watched some of Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. The world looks at the Pope and sees an old man dressed in a white robe, being broadcast for four days over the news stations and disrupting the usual routines of our government and the cities that he visited. Some heard his message and others ignored it.
I listened to some of the messages that he shared and was inspired. I was listening as a follower and ambassador for Christ and believed that God was speaking through him as he shared messages of wisdom, hope and encouragement. I watched as he traveled to Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, and greeted all the people along the way and touched the children. I prayed that the world would stop and listen, and receive the message that God loved them and was calling them to come to him through Jesus and be reconciled to him, and live for him.
Over 2000 years ago, Christ came and disrupted the lives of the people of that time. For a short time he walked on the earth and taught them about God. His teaching was fresh and new, different from what the Pharisees and teachers of the law had been teaching. He came to reconcile us to God and he changed forever the way in which all mankind could through his death and resurrection, be made right with God.
Only through Christ Jesus can we receive the gift of reconciliation. All we have to do is Give and Receive Forgiveness! No longer would the people have to sacrifice an animal to be forgiven of their sins from God. Jesus was sacrificed on our behalf. He took our place on the cross and took all the blame for all of our sins, even though he was without sin.
Jesus did the hard part, now it’s our turn to believe that what he did for each of us matters and really counts with God. All that he asks us to do is confess our sins and receive his gift of Forgiveness and go then and forgive others. It is quite simple really!
Why, then, is it so difficult for us to do? Why is an Authentic “I’m sorry for…” so difficult to say? Why is a heartfelt “I forgive you” so hard to express?
I can only speak for myself, but suspect it is probably the same for each of us. My Self centered PRIDE, gets in the way. It makes excuses. I have gotten comfortable in my sin. Fear is an old friend that keeps me company and soothes my anxious heart as I consider taking a bold step and actually admit my wrong to the person that I have hurt. It may have been unintentional, but I still hurt them either by saying or doing the wrong thing or by not saying anything to help them or the situation. Sharing the thoughts and feelings that I have held in for so long and have covered up to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Not knowing if the person I ask forgiveness from will accept my apology and give their forgiveness to me in return.
The other part is confronting someone who hurt us, especially if it was long ago and probably forgotten. I was hurt by some girls long ago who pretended to be my friends, but really were not. It took me a very long time to get over their rejection. I nursed my internal wounds for years. Finally I grew tired of the anger, and bitterness that had taken up residence in my heart. It was keeping me from opening up and trusting anyone ever again. I built a wall around myself that only Jesus could break down. I received Jesus as my savior, but I could not see that my holding onto my hurt and protecting myself from future hurts was sin. Like a child letting go of their security blanket or stuffed animal, I had to let go of my pent up feelings. As Jesus pierced my heart with his love and forgiveness, he helped me to let go of my hurt and of my pride and let the healing process begin. Over the years I have accumulated a mountain of hurt that I needed to let go of. I needed to forgive those who hurt me, not for them, but for me. I had to do this so that I could move on and live the life that Christ intended for me to live. As I look back over my life I can see how my pride and fears have ruled my life. I let them be my master instead of Jesus.
Now I see how necessary it is to be reconciled and renewed through Christ!
I no longer fear facing the truth and taking responsibility for my sins. Long ago I was at crossroad in my life. I couldn’t see my own sinful heart. I asked God to reveal to me what I couldn’t see for myself. He began showing me and is still showing me.
It all comes down to this one question that I have to ask myself. Am I living for Me or for God? That question opens up many more difficult questions that I need to answer for myself. I need to be honest with myself, because God already knows the truth and wants me to see it for myself.
Am I the most important thing in my life or is God? Am I willing to do what God is asking me to do for my own glory or for God’s? Do I believe that God is real and that he loves me? Do I receive his love and forgiveness? Have I truly repented of my deep dark sins? Have I completely let go of all my fears?
All I can say is “Jesus, Help me!” I am trapped in a prison cell of my own making. Jesus opened the door and has given me permission to leave my little cell that has limited me and kept me from being all that God has planned for me to be.
I got too comfortable and looked out at the world and retreated in fear.
Christ says,”Come follow me”, and “Don’t be afraid, I am with you!”
I am ready Jesus, help me take the next step.
Ok, so I am rambling here and it’s time to stop, but Jesus has helped me in this message to make a break through for myself. I see that I must go and be reconciled to those I have hurt, and those who have hurt me. I must do this for me, in order to be right with God. It is preventing me from truly being free in Christ.
This summer I had a chance to climb a mountain, I chickened out. I gave into my fears and stayed where I felt safe and I missed out on a great experience and beautiful view. Now I am ready to face my mountain of fears again and to let Jesus help me wipe it completely away.
I hope and pray that this blog post helps you who read it. I hope you can make some sense out of it. My prayer is that God would help you to face your own fears and go be reconciled through Christ to God and others today.
Lord Jesus, thank you for being the sacrificial lamb for me! I can never repay you. All I can do is to go and make things right with those that you have put in my life and put things right with God. I definitely need your help with all this task; To face the giant of fears in myself and To take what I have, along what all God’s power and strength to defeat my enemy! I’m ready Lord. Let’s do this!