“Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.”
Psalm 51:1-3 The Message
I was surrounded by people of dubious character.
Many of those around me had very unsavory backgrounds. They had serious flaws. There were people who had stolen, committed adulterous affairs, lied on a regular basis, had fought the battle with alcohol and drugs … and had lost badly.
Some had broken faith with family and friends. There were others who had bent the laws of ethical business. And because of these ugly backgrounds some had been incarcerated for their crimes.
Because of their pasts, these folks had become angry, bitter, hopeless, futureless and fearful.
But that was before today. Today they’re sitting around me in church and you should see them!
Shame has gone, replaced with confidence. Humiliation has turned to comfortable self-acceptance. Fear has been replaced by faith. There is no ‘head hanging’ here. Instead both hands and heads are raised in celebration of new life, fresh starts and regained futures.
And how can a roomful of losers show this kind of joyful reaction to life? How can they have so completely been separated from their past that it no longer defines their lives? Is there an adequate explanation for this mass regeneration and newfound buoyancy in life? There is.
You see, we’re sitting under a canopy of grace!
The Apostle Paul knew something about turnarounds and redemption. He explained it this way: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” II Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation The Amplified Bible states it like this: “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”
That means that for me and my friends seated around me God didn’t simply paste pictures of new parts over the broken ones in our lives. He gave us new hearts and parts. He didn’t simply modify behavior … He remade us from the inside out. We weren’t temporarily fixed … we were changed forever.
It’s true what you’ve heard. Christians aren’t perfect; they’ve been forgiven. And a church isn’t where you go to see perfect people. The church is where you go to find people who aren’t the people they used to be. It’s a weekly display of some of God’s most awesome work!
We do indeed live under the canopy of God’s grace.
Have you subscribed to Fresh Heart For a New Week videos on YouTube? Click here for the latest: http://youtu.be/OBqCJ0HtSII