“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”
One of our challenges can be a tendency to think of ourselves as fairly decent people. This may be particularly in relation to those whom we do not like or who have offended us. Whilst that may, or may not be, a fair assessment in terms of the current norms of society it cannot stand up to inspection in front of God.
He has made it quite clear that in front of Him we ‘have all sinned and fall short.’ As belittling as it may be we each have to acknowledge that we are sinners. The question of whether we may be ‘better sinners’ or ‘worse sinners’ than anyone else is at this point irrelevant. As we have all fallen short we have all found ourselves outside of the presence of God and with no right or possibility of access to Him.
When Jesus died upon the cross He died for the sins of the whole world – all the sins – including mine and ‘theirs.’ By the grace of God we can all be forgiven and justified – made right, clear and clean – in His sight through our faith in Christ Jesus. As this point all the ‘forgiven ones’ are equal in His sight – including me and the people who have offended me and even my enemies. We are all sinners who have been forgiven and Jesus tells us quite clearly to ‘love one another.’ We might well be at very different places in our understanding of God and His truth. We may like or dislike the way that different people express their understanding of God and their relationship with Him. However we are still called to love one another and to realise that to some of them our ways will seem very strange and even inadequate.
Although we have been ‘justified freely’ by the grace of God we are still imperfect. Therefore our understanding of God’s truth and our response to His love will continue to be imperfect. It may continue to be coloured very much by that which we like and dislike based on our context and culture. It may not be more imperfect than others but may not necessarily be better either.
Therefore we remain sinners who have been forgiven by the grace of God – and not through any merit that we find in ourselves. What is more we all have within us the one and only Holy Spirit who is seeking to pour into our hearts the love of the one and only God and to produce in our lives the fruit or characteristics of that one and only God.
We have all started from different places and are being drawn together towards the centre which is the Lord Himself. However when we finally arrive we may find that instead of our all looking, thinking and acting identically – and just like ‘me’ – God has in fact created an orchard with a whole variety of beautiful trees bearing an abundance of wonderful fruit in which we will all delight.
I am loved – so I can love. I am forgiven – so I can forgive.
Lord please heal the little me who lives within and transform me into the love-filled and love-sharing gracious me that You are creating. Amen.