Often times when reflecting upon my life, all I can see in myself is a failure of a Christian.
I see my never-ending struggle with sin. I know that Romans 6:1-2 states “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – and yet, how often I participate in willful rebellion against God’s authority – simply because I desire my sin? Time and again the Holy Spirit convicts, bringing me on my knees in repentance; yet given any length of time I am back in my sin, wanting once again to give in.
I see my struggle to love my neighbours – and my enemies. Jesus tells us the following:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-45a
I find it hard enough just loving the people I get along with. I’m a selfish person, and I often put my own agenda first, so the challenge to place others as a higher priority than myself is difficult enough. Add in loving my enemies? That’s a whole other story. Though I am striving to be obedient to God in my interactions with others, I often find myself loosing the battle.
I see my struggle to be bold for and unashamed of the Gospel. It is easier for me to passionately proclaim God here on this blog in the safety of this end of the Internet, where I’m not seeing all the negative responses towards the Gospel – not seeing the scoffing faces or hearing the demeaning remarks directed at me. While Paul boldly proclaims “I am not ashamed of the gospel” in Romans 1:16a, I so often want to blend in with the crowd and hide in the shadows. In all this, I am unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) communicating my shame in the truth that has given my new life.
It is so tempting to look at all this – and believe me, there’s a whole lot more – and see one word: failure. I become disheartened and discouraged, and I feel as though I am unqualified to serve God – that I do not deserve to be a Christian.
But here is the simple truth:
I am undeserving.
Herein lies the beauty of the Gospel. I am a sinner – a rebel against God’s authority. As a Christ-follower who has surrendered to God, I am a forgiven sinner, but still a sinner nonetheless. I continually struggle with sin because I am fighting against my sin nature – a new self fighting against the old self (Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-17, Romans 6).
Yet, despite all of my failures, rebellion, and short-comings, God continually displays His immutable grace and love to me.
Stop and ponder on this. To think that, if you are redeemed by Him, God – Ruler of Eternity, and Creator of All – loves you with a perfect love: that is indescribable. His love isn’t dictated by your performance or reciprocation, but on His holiness. I so often would have given up on myself, but not God. He continually displays His love patiently towards me, molding and making me for His glory.
I don’t deserve to be a Christian. I have no right to know this lovingly perfect, holy God as my personal heavenly Father.
However, God chose to redeem my life, for His own glory. He bought me back at the price of Christ’s blood on Calvary. God sacrificed His only and beloved Son to give me new life. That is grace: I have been given a gift I could never deserve.
* * *
Maybe you also wrestle with considering yourself a failure as a Christian – you as well might feel at times that because of sin you are a hopeless cause. I can most definitely assure you that you will struggle with your sanctification all throughout your life.
Yet, in spite of all that you are, when you come in repentance you are continually forgiven. There is always grace to be found at the Throne of Mercy. He who sits upon that throne has bought you, and nothing – no, nothing – shall ever separate you from His eternal love.
This is you Redeemer. Come boldly before His throne and stand in His presence, filled with awe at the wonder of His grace.