In light of what I wrote earlier today, I’ve been doing some reflecting upon why so many people refuse to want to know me for who I am now, and instead, insist on hating me for who I was when I was at my worst. This afternoon, as I was driving, running some mundane errands, I hooked up my iPhone to the Bluetooth of my car stereo and put all the songs on shuffle. I do this often because my musical taste is quite eclectic — everything from Guns N’ Roses to Tupac to The Beatles to Michael W. Smith to Garth Brooks.
And quite early in the shuffle (in fact, I was less than a mile from my house), the song “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North came on…
Here’s the chorus:
“You are more than the choices that you’ve made;
You are more than the sum of past mistakes;
You are more than the problems you create;
You’ve been remade!”
You are more.
So am I.
And anyone who claims to be a Christian and does not believe in the repentance and redemption of anyone is no Christian at all.
A Christian who doesn’t believe in my salvation does not believe in their own.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this song happened to shuffle it’s way to the top of my iPhone’s playlist. I needed to hear this, and many people need to hear this as well. The judgmental Christian culture which refuses forgiveness for sinners while exalting their own faux-righteousness don’t believe in true Christianity; they’re Pharisees, just like Caiaphas.
How about I back that up with a little scripture, eh?
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” [Luke 18:9-14]
Tax collectors were among the most hated of any class of individuals. And yet, Jesus gave him the benefit of the doubt, whereas the Pharisee — who believed he was living his own righteous life — is the cautionary character of the parable.
Sure, maybe you’ve never done the bad things I’ve done; I’m glad. But the truth is, God gives me just as much forgiveness as He gives you. And if you believe in scripture, yet refuse to forgive a sinner like me, then you don’t believe in scripture at all.
Christianity is not a buffet — you can’t just pick-and-choose which parts you want to believe. It’s an all-or-nothing deal. So if you expect God to forgive you for your sins while refusing to forgive me for my sins against others, then — according to scripture — you will receive no forgiveness.
15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. [Matthew 6:15]
I am more than the choices that I’ve made; I am more than the sum of past mistakes; I am more than the problems I create — I’ve been remade!
And if you don’t believe that, perhaps you should read your Bible again.
Because if you don’t believe in my forgiveness, you don’t believe in your own.