Can I ask you a question? says my lunch companion, a half eaten appetizer of breaded calamari between us. Do you believe you are forgiven?
I squirm in the restaurant chair, resisting the urge to sit on my hands. I feel the ‘right’ words forming in my mind but my heart hesitates. I look away from him, my eyes darting to the right, searching, asking, ‘Do I believe I am forgiven?’
As a writer, I take my words quite seriously, and I often find myself uttering qualifying phrases such as “I see it this way now, but tomorrow or the next day may be different as I get more information,” or “I can say these words but the truth will be in my actions. I guess we will just have to see how I respond.”
In other words, I tend to look for a way ‘out’ from future judgement if I fail to live up to my word. And fall out of my own integrity, or even become a walking contradiction, so to speak.
In that moment, the question of forgiveness lingering like grease, I slide my coffee cup back and forth between my hands on the restaurant table, knowing the right words, what is the truth. Yet, cannot speak them.
I know “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
I know when Jesus died on the cross I am no longer under the old covenant of Moses, and that “sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14
And I know that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Yet, there are still times I see, that I have walked as one not forgiven, allowing my value to be measured on past transgressions and making choices from that place, instead of as one who has been saved through Him.
At those moments of condemnation, I turned my eyes away from the Christ in me who says ” I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
In other words, I have turned away from the truth of me whenever I am in condemnation “for God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the begotten Son of God.” John 13:17-18
And what is the truth of me in Christ?
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48. As He is, so also are we in this world. 1 John 4:17.
Did you know that the Greek word for ‘be’ is Esomai and is different than the word ‘become?’ Esomai does not ask us to strive to become perfect. It is saying we are already perfect as we are because “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
Doesn’t that good news just light you up?
There is no striving to be perfect as you are already perfect and seated in the heavenly places with him.
There’s a speck of grease on my white napkin where I had dropped a calamari. I turn it over so the unsoiled side is all that I can see. And I think, isn’t that what Christ asks of us? To turn away from our transgressions, and look to him, the pure and perfect within us?
Yes, I tell my lunch companion, I do believe I am forgiven, when I look at the Christ in me. It’s where I’m on the journey, and every moment of the day it’s a choice, to live in condemnation or in the Christ in me–to live in the darkness of condemnation or His light.
And to live from that place that knows that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, (Romans 8:1) and “in Him (I) have been made complete.” Colossians 2:10
Where are you looking today? Are you looking away in the darkness of condemnation or are you looking at the Christ in you who is perfect and seeing yourself seated now in the heavenly realms as the daughter/son of your Father?
My hope is you are knowing and abiding in the declaration of who your Father says you are: The Beloved.
And that maybe you have a friend, too, that sometimes makes you squirm in your restaurant chair.