To me, these passages highlight a lot about the ground we stand upon, God’s love, our new identity, and the freedom offered through Christ. The words of these passages are weighty. They punch the gut, they dispel lies, and they contain the gospel. Words written long ago, meant to bring about freedom in our lives today. And here’s why.
A continuous theme in the New Testament, one that often gets overlooked, is that of establishing common ground. I believe Paul words in 1 Corinthians 6:11 and John’s in 1 John 3:1-3 make such an appeal. For most people, it’s easy to see this appeal in John’s words, but it’s not so easy to see it in Paul’s. However, I beg to differ. That is of course, if we’re reading these words through God’s voice and not our own.
God’s common ground is this: we are all sinners in need of His gracious intervention. All of us have past (and present) sins that we deal with. Some may be further along in their journey than others, but we are all still on a journey towards being made into the man / woman God desires us to be.
Some people will look at a list of sins and start to rank them in order of “big” to “small.” However, this isn’t what Paul is conveying, nor is it reading these passages through the heart of God. All sin is evil and all sin separates us from God, whether or not it’s a “big” or “small” sin is invalid. See, people in gay relationships aren’t the only ones in danger of not inheriting God’s Kingdom, so are people who are liars, greedy, adulterous, prideful, conceited, slanderous, lovers of themselves, ungrateful, thieves, gossipers, boastful, etc. When it comes to being sinful, we’re all on the same common ground. None of us has a right to hold superiority over another. We are all guilty of sin, and none of us deserve to inherit God’s Kingdom. No one is greater, or lesser, than another.
The question then becomes, how will we walk with each other upon this common ground?
God’s Risky Move
Paul says that by Christ we’re washed, sanctified, and justified before God. It is nothing on our part. It is totally done by a gracious Father who stepped into His child’s life and intervened. While we were still in our sin, God’s love for us was poured out through the death and resurrection of Christ. Again, the appeal for common ground shines forth. Christ didn’t come to forgive certain sins, and not others. He didn’t come for the less-threatening sins, and He certainly didn’t come because some were better off than others. Jesus Christ came to reconcile the world to God. In doing this, all who receive Christ become new creations and ambassadors of reconciliation to the world in which we still live, though no longer belong to (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
As a new creation, we embark on a journey of transformation. All Christians endure this. All Christians struggle with this. All Christians are called to share with one another the burdens and joys of this journey. This journey isn’t suppose to separate us, rather join us together as one, united Body of Christ.
A New Identity
This journey causes our identity to change – forever. Sin kills us. Jesus restores us to life. What we used to do, we no longer do. How we used to act, we no longer act. His love and His life changes everything about our love and life. We are not the same.
This is how Christians are to live. This is the great message Christians are to share. This is the common ground Christians are to live upon with each other, and with the world around us. No longer is it “us” versus “them.” It’s “us and Him.” No longer are we placed into several categories with multiple identities (2 Corinthians 5:16). There is one identity all people wear: made in God’s image. Likewise, there are only two ways to look at those around us: people who need Jesus’ salvation, and people who need to grow deeper in Jesus’ sanctification. Everyone fits into one of these two areas. God doesn’t change the amount of His love for either group, and neither should the Church. We are God’s children who are commanded to love and disciple the “others” of God’s fold (John 10:16). We are not called to reject them, belittle them, or give them any other labels that God has not ordained them. Through Christ, we have been given a second chance at life as adopted sons and daughters of the King, to which we offer the same to everyone else we connect with.
This does not mean, however, we reject all morality and live as we wish. This means we submit our lives to Christ, as He submitted His life for us; it means that we freely live as God’s adoptive children. We arise to the challenges put forth by our Great God, and we tell the world of His Glorious Worth. We become the light Christ ordained us to be, so that we shine forth His hope and salvation everywhere. This freedom in Christ allows us to throw aside the burdens of the world, while at the same time burden our hearts to love and reach the world like Christ.
To me, Christians should more model the blind man in John 9 then the religious leaders of the same story. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.