I went to church my entire childhood. It was boring most of the time. To be fair, that was because of me not the church. These days I am a member of an energetic church that feels a lot like family to me.
There is only one reason for the difference between my childhood and today: I met Jesus and now we have a relationship. When I met the actual person of God everything in my life began to change.
This is a vital point to comprehend: when He redeems us, God does not simply wipe the slate clean and make us look better (although that is true). He doesn’t just upgrade us to version 2.0. He makes us new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
What’s the difference? Let’s say a person breaks the law and gets sent to prison. When they are released from prison, they return to society but have a label: convict. While free to live in society again, they are forever marked as guilty. Now consider the status of a person who is freed from prison and receives a pardon from the governor. The pardon says that person is not a convict. OK, they went to prison but their conviction is removed; it is not held against them. Their record is clean.
This is one of the great glories of knowing Jesus: we are set free and we are pardoned. When God looks at us – because of Jesus – He sees us as clean. Spotless. Pristine. Sparkling. Maybe you can’t see it from where you are but I am gleaming. If you have a relationship with the person Jesus, you are gleaming too.
The “new me” is the “redeemed me” – and the “redeemed me” has something to say about that. So does the Bible:
Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. Psalm 107:2 NLT
It is reported that Francis of Assissi said something like, ”Preach the gospel of Jesus. Use words if necessary”. It is also highly disputed whether he did. Who knows? What is important is that we preach the good news (gospel) of what Jesus has done to – and through – us. Preferably without using words. This is not for us; it is for Him. Living as redeemed children of God tells the world how wonderful He is.
This mystery of grace and forgiveness and acceptance makes my head spin and my heart overflow with joy. There have been moments so intense that I cried tears of gratitude and praise for the Risen One, who redeemed me from unimaginable condemnation and eternal death. He calls me His beloved. I call Him Savior.