Pastor's Article for the Park Rapids Enterprise - November 24, 2018
There is such a great freedom in being a sinner. Being a true sinner, one who has come to grips with our reality and standing before God, we then become those who seek out the very thing we need: forgiveness. It causes us to have our lives fit around regular and daily confession. Regular and daily dying to self and living only in Christ, we take Romans 6 and make it the sweetest piece of Gospel we can find. Being those baptized into the death of Christ, drowned in Jesus and his work for us, we are then “buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.”
Notice I speak of being an actual sinner. One who knows it and knows of what they need. I am not saying that I glory in my sins. NO! My sin brings me despair. I am angry that I spend my life mocking other sinners, thinking myself better, complaining about other Christians lack of commitment, making myself the “true” Christian. My sins bring me to Jesus because I look upon myself and know the only thing good in me is that Christ has forgiven my sin, saying that we are at peace, him and I.
In John 20:21-23, Jesus comes to the disciples, the ones who betrayed and abandoned him, and his first words to them are, “Peace be with you.” He then breathes upon them the Spirit and commissions them to go out and forgive sins just as he did. If our real work as Christians is to forgive sin, to find fellow sinners and serve up Jesus to them on a silver platter, then our good works, the things that we usually tout as all our goodness before God, become part of our sinfulness. Because all good we can do is only founded upon a sinner being forgiven and giving that forgiveness away just like Christ.
Good works, nice things we do, are not the focus of our life and can do nothing for our own righteousness or to bring us closer to God (Romans 3:19-20). Being a good person, not being a jerk, doing exactly what we are supposed to do as human beings, is not some sort of extra credit we get with God. We are supposed to be kind and gentle, giving away that which God has given us. The fact that we either don’t do that, or if we do we want a treat like a puppy who doesn’t pee on the carpet, shows us the necessity of Christ to come to us and give us forgiveness, mercy, and freedom from ourselves.
Your life in Christ begins and ends in Jesus crucified, dead, buried, and raised for you. For the forgiveness of your sin. All other work we do is done by the Spirit in us and has no weight upon the fact that in our sin, in our failure, Christ’s words to us are – Peace be with you.