Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Final Verdict.



I want to start by telling you a story.


This story is about a man who seemingly had every card in the deck stacked against him. From childhood he faced hardships that completely shattered him. As a result, he turned to unfulfilling activities in retaliation. He hurt those that tried to help him. He stole. He lied. He turned to drugs. With every step deeper into this life style he felt a tug on his soul, but he allowed himself to become numb. 


He found himself in a place he never thought he would end up in. "It will never get this bad" turned into his reality. In a series of accidental events, he had taken the life of someone he had never known. This man stood in disbelief as the cop car lights came into sight. He was taken into custody and awaited the trial.


It was the day of the trial. 
The man stood shakily in the courtroom for the judge to appear. Dripping in shame, he had decided he would plead guilty. He thought of his reputation and what it would be like now. Would his family and friends be able to look him in the eye? Would he even be to look himself in the eye? Above all, his current fear was "what will the judge think of me?" He knew that his criminal record wasn't going to his saving grace. He assumed the judge probably thought the worst of him. The man was hopeless. 


The judge walked in. 
This wasn't a regular trial. No, God was the judge. The Judge situated himself and asked for the name and crime of the one on trial.


The trial begins.
 "Do you find yourself guilty, sir?" asked the Judge. "Yes, sir. I do." replied the man that was left trembling with fear of the punishment. 
"And do you admit that I have the power to change your life and accurately judge your wrongdoings?" asked the Judge. 
"Well... of course. You are better than I am." the man replied with a sense of confusion. Then Judge then looked through the long list of transgressions this man had committed all throughout his life and recognized that he confessed to murder. "Alright," said the Judge, "I've made my decision."


The verdict.
 "You admitted your wrongdoings and acknowledged who I am. With that in mind, you are now found not guilty of any current or past wrongs. You should feel no shame, because I am taking that away. This trial is over."


However, this was not all. 
The judge then took the man from the stands and brought him to his house. He told the man that he is now a life-giver, full of peace, and joyful. The Judge made a place for him at the table, gave him new clothes, and offered him a room. The two sat down for a meal, joined by the Judge's Son. His only Son.  The three had long conversations and the Son felt for the man. For it seems as though the Son understood what it was like to carry the weight of the world.


Ok. So maybe this story is fake. This never actually happened, and I'm not saying crimes don't deserve punishment. BUT the concept is there.


We so often think our sin is the end-all-be-all. We wonder if God will still love us even though we continue to turn our backs from him. Our human nature causes us to hide behind shame. We cower in fear, wincing over what God's verdict will be. We believe that maybe, just maybe, our sin was too big. But, God looks at us and forgives our sin if we just admit. This is not all though, no he then wraps us in love and takes us home. He makes us a seat at His table. He makes a room just for us in His house. He promises to love us every day of our lives.

Our God is so great, and our shame is so small.


A couple months ago I had the ability to attend one of Jennie Allen's sermons. She focused on the verse Romans 8:1. It goes a little like this:


"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus."


I remember it so well because she had to repeat this verse at least six times. I think she did this so we could realize what we were saying. There is no condemnation, meaning there is no punishment for those who believe in Jesus. Jennie, being the great speaker she is, is then questioned, "If there is no fear, then what keeps us from admitting the thing that separates us from God, sin?"


In front of all of us, she admitted her struggle of anxiety, which then inspired a few others to grab the microphone, which then turned into almost everyone there. The only thing that was left after that was freedom. Pure freedom, bliss, and joy.


I urge you to speak your fear and walk into the unknown. Whatever it is, say it out loud. Drop your worry. Run to the Father.


You will only find freedom.


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