As I write, it’s finals weekend, and I have an awful headache. But I began to feel so strongly about this I had to get it down. I read an article recently that got me excited (I know, I couldn’t believe it either). It was on two Christians with very different pasts who are getting married soon. God’s grace, love, and mercy just shower this story. Fellow blogger of “Unspoken” is the writer and the groom: http://unspokenblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/my-wife-has-tattoos-marriage-new-birth-and-the-gospel/.
The post is there, so I won’t go into details. I’m one who is careful to observe all qualities of God, including His wrath, justice, and jealousy. But sometimes I just have to sit back and admire how good He is to people that don’t deserve it. None of us do.
But for some reason Christians think some do while others don’t. Which is what leads me to what may come off as harsh words. Oh well, we’ll get over it.
Spencer Harman, the author of the aforementioned post, “My Wife Has Tattoos: Marriage, New Birth, and the Gospel”, writes of his fiancée, who used to live a party lifestyle, has been involved in drugs and alcohol, and has seven tattoos. But that was before she became a Christian and was bought back from her lifestyle into the family of God. Praise God for His mercy and grace, we say. But it doesn’t end there.
Harman, who went to high school with his soon-to-be wife, then began to date her. And soon will marry her. Doubtless people asked him, “Isn’t that- you know- that one girl?” But Harman can say, “No, that Taylor died, and Jesus made a new Taylor.”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (I Corinthians 5:17)
Who is unworthy to be saved? All of us. But who is it available to? “Whosoever.” And no (true) Christian would deny that (sorry for using the Bible, Calvinists). But sometimes we live our lives that way. That person is too rough, too deep in sin, they’d never listen. But God says “whosoever”.
But we take it a step further. God’s grace is absolutely available to them, but we’re going to be careful afterwards. You feel me guys? How many times have I heard, “I want to marry a virgin. I deserve that since I’ve kept my virginity.”
Take this from a fellow virgin: You deserve Hell. Absolutely nothing more than that. Shame on you for thinking you deserve more. But Christ died to save us from God’s wrath (I knew it’d make its way in somehow). And the same blood Jesus spilled around 2,000 years ago is the same blood it took to save you, and to save that girl with the reputation.
God plainly tells us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). ALL. None of us measure up. So when you say, “I want to marry a virgin”, or “I want to be with a lifelong Christian,” you’re saying you’re better than them. And God says pride goes before destruction. What’s more, you’re saying God’s grace isn’t good enough.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m speaking of things that are in the past. If a girl (although this applies to girls too) is currently involved in a sinful lifestyle, then she needs prayer, not your affection. The Bible tells us not to be unequally yolked with unbelievers; furthermore, if someone isn’t serious about their relationship with Christ, you don’t need to be with them. But for someone who is dedicated to God, their past shouldn’t matter.
Your past didn’t matter to God. He saved you anyway. And when you continued to sin afterwards, He still forgave and forgives you. Christians are far from sinless, we just learn (specifically those raised in church) how to hide it better. Because the lost generally don’t care to hide their sin, but we are held to a higher standard. So instead of meeting it, we hide our sin.
Can I tell you something? God didn’t care about their past either. He looks down and sees His child, redeemed from sin to live for Him. He sees the blood of Jesus, that saved us all. Because we all don’t deserve it, but God looked past our sin.
John Bradford looked at a group of prisoners being led to execution, and said, “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” He (who was burned at the stake for his Protestant faith) realized that he was not better than anyone, just under God’s grace. As a well-known saying goes, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive.”
What’s the point of me saying all this? You have to rid yourself of your pride that you think you deserve, well, anything. Realize God’s grace goes farther than we could ever realize. Don’t dare think you are better than someone because you have a less sinful past, or at least a better hidden past, than them. When Jesus looks at us, He sees us all the same. Don’t see if a girl is a virgin, see if she has committed herself to the One who can cover her past in His blood. Don’t ask her if she’s ever used drugs or tobacco or alcohol, ask her if she is dead to that and alive to Christ.
God tells us over and over in both Testaments that He is “no respecter of persons” (again, sorry Calvinists). He doesn’t look at one person and say, “Oh yeah, he’s lived a good enough life, he can accept my Son as his Savior,” but at another and say, “She’s just been too sinful, she’s out of luck.” When He adopts us into His family, he doesn’t think one person is worthy of having their past forgiven but another isn’t.
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14)
Don’t miss that. God doesn’t look at any of His children’s iniquities, but takes them away and puts them so far away we can’t see them anymore. Why, then, do we remember people’s sins? “That’s a great testimony, I’m just not sure I could ever date you with that past.” Are our standards above God’s?
I know a number of people, girls and guys, who have a past they’re not proud of in some respects. But God saved them from their previous lifestyle and now they have dedicated their lives to serving Him. I don’t consider them any less than a “church kid”; and while we may think we don’t, ruling them out of dating or close friendships is exactly against God. I was raised in church, and I’ve done things I’m not proud of- I still do. No one is exempt from that. We are all joint-heirs with Christ, having been given the spirit of adoption. All of us can cry “Abba Father”- can call God our “daddy”. Religions, and people who are religious without a relationship with Jesus, may look at a person’s background and how well they’ve lived. God isn’t interested in that: He’s interested in the future you can have in Him.
I’m not saying go out and find the girl with the worst past imaginable and desire to marry her. What I’m saying is, don’t make it a non-option. That truly shows God’s love. He’s pursued people from some awful lifestyles and awful lifestyles. He pursued after Israel despite them repeatedly forsaking Him (look at Judges and Hosea for two good examples). He doesn’t look at our past, but at the potential we have because of what He’s given us. Do the same for your fellow Christian sisters (or brothers) who have been saved from those situations. Jesus even said it helps them love Him better.
“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” (Luke 7:41-43)
Do you realize who Jesus spoke to? He was talking to a Pharisee, who when he saw a prostitute in his house who had come to see Jesus, wondered why she had come to bother them. Jesus had compassion on her though and forgave her sins. A woman who made a living off of sexual sin, He forgave. He forgave the woman caught in adultery. He forgave Matthew, a publican. He forgave Paul, a religious leader who killed Christians. He forgives us with all our sin.
You are not better than anyone. You have been redeemed with the same blood that redeems all other Christians, and can redeem “whosoever”. Be a Godly man and act like it.