As I’ve grown closer to God, I’ve realized I’ve had a distorted view of who he is, though my vision is becoming more clear little by little.
I’ve always seen him as being disappointed at my continued failure to overcome sin. This has been taught in both subtle and outright ways all my life. Such a viewpoint causes some to act as though they have somehow gained control over their sin, promoting an external self-righteousness. Otherwise, it drives those away that realize they can’t overcome their sin or manage it to appear righteous enough to others.
In both cases, the sin is still there.
I’ve come to a realization that I’m now starting to be able to believe and apply, though it takes time to fully sink in—Jesus became sin and took the consequences at the cross.
Yeah, I know we’ve heard this all our lives and say we believe it. However, we’re still led to think that we have to somehow overcome our sin.
God, while he loves us, doesn’t seem to like us much until we do.
This leads to all kinds of systems of sin management that have existed for centuries. However, these systems have never been successful at overcoming sin but only attempt to redirect it elsewhere while driving it deeper within ourselves.
“We are not the problem, it’s them.” This is a phrase that is stated in many forms. This view attempts to undo all that Jesus suffered to destroy our sin on the cross. We impose our twisted view of God onto the rest of the world—“God loves you but doesn’t like you until you clean up your act.”
Jesus isn’t standing opposed to us when we fail. He is standing right beside us. When we only see him as distant, we have no power to overcome our sin. When we realize that he is in us and we are in him, we begin to realize we have his power within us and can overcome our sin with him.
What we may also fail to realize is that Jesus became sin in every way that sin is sin. He didn’t just symbolically become sin. He literally took all of our sin into himself and paid the consequences for it. Though I can admit this, I have a hard time truly believing it—for myself or for others. I still tend to insist there is something I have to do to overcome my sin. However, just as Jesus literally became sin, we literally became his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We have been made saints!
This is probably one of the most significant realizations in Christianity but yet the least accepted.
We continue to try to please God by our own methods when he is already pleased with us. We fail to just trust him and let him stand with us against our sin. We seem to think we are going to embarrass God if our vulnerabilities are exposed, so we act as though everything is okay on the surface.
However, Jesus overcame all of our shame at the cross!
We continue to see ourselves as an old, shameful sinner who has to do enough lifelong sin management to get through the gates of heaven. This causes us to live in a perpetually unfulfilled state.
When we accept that we have become a new creation, we focus on God’s grace and love and receive that fulfillment now, in this lifetime! Jesus is then able to help us overcome our sin as we are ready. This isn’t through force, willpower, programs, or management systems. It is through Jesus. We are also able to stand with others in their vulnerabilities and share Jesus’ love and acceptance with them. Instead, though, we tend to heap shame on others to justify ourselves or manipulate them to do things our way.
It’s not “Us vs Them.” It’s us standing with Jesus and with “them.” God is not on “our” side or against “them.” He sent Jesus to show that he is on everyone’s side.