by Pastor Dennis Webber
When writing to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul reminds them that the Kingdom of God is not open to those who deliberately choose a lifestyle of wrongdoing. He then reminds them that that is what many of them were before they had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. He says it this way – “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A couple of those terms are pretty technical but Paul is trying to get them to understand that when Jesus sets us free from our old self of selfishness and addictions we are in His words “free indeed.” All of us need to have the crud of our lives washed off but we are talking much more than a getting a spiritual shower.
Paul uses those technical terms to indicate that everything about us changes when we engage in an encounter with Jesus. Our very nature, our motivations, responses, and relationships change. We are sanctified; our legal standing with the authority of the universe changes. We, the person who did all of those things in the past, are declared fully forgiven and rehabilitated. We are justified.
The Bible is full of stories about human lives being changed by personal encounters with God. Moses the slave and murderer becomes Moses the deliverer. Rahab the prostitute becomes Rahab the protector and along the way becomes part of the family into which Jesus is born. Saul of Tarsus, who by his own admission was a violent man and an aggressor, becomes the apostle to the Gentiles.
As inspiring as these stories are, my favorite stories of change and new beginnings are the ones happening right now, right here. It is the drug addict and thief who is now sober, productive, and yes charitable; a user having become a giver. It is the promiscuous lady who has come to see herself in a new way. A wayward daughter who now knows she is a daughter of the King. It is the self-righteous man who has come to understand that a whole bunch of stuff is not the same as being personally whole.
That is why we are spending the first 8 weeks of the New Year to celebrate new beginnings. Every week we are going to share in the stories of individuals who have experienced a new beginning with Jesus. We are going to celebrate that change. We are going to celebrate the journey that continues from that change. We are going to encourage one another to finish the change that started when we were washed, when we were sanctified, and when we were justified.
To read the full newsletter this article appeared in, go to www.parkwaycc.com/newsletter, January 2018, Vol. 2, Issue 1.