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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To redeem, or not to redeem?

As Christians the idea of redemption is a big part of our faith. We believe that Christ has redeemed us with His work on the cross. His blood has cleaned us and set us free the bonds of sin and oppression. Redemption through Christ’s sacrifice is at the center of our faith. Forgiveness is also key to our faith as Christians. We praise the Lord for forgiving us our sins. We are overjoyed that Christ has forgiven us of our heathen ways; for the drunkenness of our youth, for the pre-marital sex we were tempted into, for the lies we told, for the items we stole, possibly even for cheating on our spouse, for breaking the speed limit, for not tithing 10%, for swearing in traffic and for leaving work 5 minutes early. We are so grateful to be forgiven. But Scripture also tells us to be forgiven we must forgive as well.

Matthew 6:14-15
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Ephesians 4:30-32
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

In the last few weeks, I’ve wondered, if we really do this. Do we really believe in redemption for all people? Do we really forgive those who hurt us? We easily forgive those who speak ill of us (at least with an apology). We forgive our spouses and our friends and co-workers easily, most likely because if we didn’t it would be difficult to see and interact with them on a daily basis. But when someone really hurts us, or really hurts someone we know, can we really forgive them? Do we give our pain to Christ? Do we release ourselves from the torment of bitterness or do we cling to it like a warm, comforting blanket? Do we wrap ourselves in our own pain to justify our hardened hearts? Do we speak forgiveness in the same sentence that we speak about being shaped by our past? Do we call ourselves redeemed in the same sentence that we call ourselves victim? Are we really a new creation? If our old self is crucified with Christ, is our bitterness crucified as well?

What if it happened to us? Can we believe in redemption then? What if it happened to us or to our family, or our neighbor, that girl at school, the secretary at work, the girl on the news? What if she was lied to? What if he was called names? What if she was hit? What if they were abused, raped, molested, tortured, murdered? Do we, as Christians believe in redemption for those people? Do we believe in supernatural healing and forgiveness for those of us who have hurt us in the worst way possible?

Can these men be redeemed?

11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. 13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. Hebrews 9:11-15

Christ came so that all might be redeemed. If we seek Him we are said to be reborn into a new creation. Paul said he had wronged no man, even though before he met Christ he had brutally murdered Christians. How can Paul have wronged no man if his past was stained with the blood of innocents?

Redemption. Blood bought redemption. Rebirth via the supernatural power of God.

We are told we are given a new name. (Isaiah 62:2) Are we willing to see others receive a new name? Are we willing to call them a new name?

Can we no longer call someone Victim but call them Saved?

No longer Survivor?
     But Renewed?

No longer Perpetrator?
     But Holy?

No longer Abuser?
     But Loved?

No longer Alcoholic?
     But Whole and healthy?

No longer Criminal?
    But Righteous?

No longer Rapist?
    But Disciple?

No longer patient?
    But healed?

No longer theif?
     But Beloved?

No longer Dirty?
     But now Clean.

No longer Murderer?
     But friend of God?

We talk about God’s free gift of salvation through his Son, but are we really comfortable with the redemption of the WORLD? Do we rejoice when a criminal in prison comes to know Jesus and is changed? Can we not only forgive our abusers, but also love them and show them compassion as well? What is forgiveness really? And what is true Redemption?

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