Many of us think that Jesus came for the sole purpose of bringing us into lives of mind-numbing boredom and monastery-like religiosity—with endless Bible lessons focusing on rules, warnings, and condemnation. I’ve been in churches where the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up unless you’ve sung choruses for over 45 minutes or the sermon has to be at least an hour long. Often, non-believers and believers alike think Jesus spends most of his time in deep fear that somebody somewhere is having a good time and it’s his responsibility to bring that to an immediate end.
But we can be glad this kind of thinking is way off the mark!
Jesus came to release us from every form of blindness, captivity to false idols and ideologies, and oppression—freedom for all who are trapped by their fears and failings, imprisoned, release from different kinds of trials, restoration of sight for the blind, and proclamation of the Lord’s favor. These are the truths of the Gospel Jesus brings to the world. Jesus is the bringer of joy and celebration.
There is, however, a caveat. God calls us to repentance—for our own good.
But acknowledging our faults, weaknesses, and sins is not our idea of fun, and sometimes it’s the last thing we ever want to do. So why is it so necessary to our spiritual health?
It’s because without confession, there is no forgiveness—and God’s grace and forgiveness are the foundation of our relationship with him. If we are completely open with God about our sins, God is completely ready and eager to forgive them.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. –Psalm 103:11–12
Think about it. The God who decrees that human sin deserves and receives death is the same God who also declares that he is more willing and ready to wipe it all out and bury it in the very depths of the sea, than we are to admit it. He holds no grudges even though every bad thing we do or say is ultimately against him. He doesn’t even remember our folly and foolishness if we allow him to dispose of it all in his giant refuse dump. It’s gone. Done with. Forever!
There’s really nothing in our earthly experience that prepares us for this level of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. People don’t really forget, even though they may say they do. Given the right moment we’ll hear it all again: “Don’t you remember that time when you_____ (fill in the blank yourself)?”
But with God, who has every right to remind us of our past failures, pettiness, and sin, it’s all gone and forgotten. He erases and blots out every last trace of the stain forever. Why? Because he loves us—wholly and unconditionally. Even if we don’t feel loved or lovable, our powerful Almighty God promises and comforts us by saying:
I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you. -Jeremiah 31:3
So turn your eyes toward God and take advantage of your privilege of repentance. Keep the channels of communication unclogged with a free and clear conscience, and experience the freedom and exuberant joy that comes only through being a child of the Most High.