As a younger Christian, I used to view my religion as a set of rules–like the Ten Commandments. It was you should do this, not this, and oh definitely not that. It was a religion and nothing more.
Over the past couple of years, however, as I’ve matured in my faith, it’s become more of a way of life. As TobyMac put it in his song Til the Day I Die: “This ain’t religion it’s devotion.” I grew close to the Savior of the world, my Father, my Friend. Christianity no longer looked like a set of rules; rather, it was a race in which I must run and look ahead to the prize. I began looking past the “do”s and “don’t”s and instead put my focus on my future and what God was going to do. It was about growing closer to Him so I could accomplish anything and everything that He would have me do.
What I failed to realize was that while my view of Christianity had drastically changed for the better, my sin nature wasn’t a thing of the past. I went a month and a half without committing one of the “big sins” such as lying, cheating, stealing, so on and so forth (to my knowledge, at least). I without a doubt did something that made God upset, but those things were “small.” I had been doing my best to live a perfectly clean life, and I had been fairly successful.
Then the temptation came. I couldn’t fight it; I was too weak. I knew it was wrong and that I shouldn’t do it, but I did it anyway. I sinned.
I lost the battle, and my world practically came crashing down on me. I called myself a bad Christian; I felt absolutely terrible for going against God’s rules. I hated myself. That one slip brought tears to my eyes, left me shaking in fear and self-hate, and stole any joy that I had had prior to the incident. I reached my breaking point and fell apart.
I somehow let myself believe the lie that I was above the world–that I was immune to sin. I falsely believed that ALL sin was in the past, never to return. I was wrong; I messed up. And it left me devastated.
But then I remembered the word “forgiveness.” It’s the thing that God had given me the first time I called out to him, that word that I had sung in church time and time again. I had honestly forgotten that “we all”–even good Christians–“make mistakes sometimes, and we’ve all stepped across that line…we all stumble and we fall.” (TobyMac) We all need forgiveness more than once. I called out to my Father in humble distress–broken and embarrassed that I had ever let myself forget the goodness of God. How could I have ever been so wrong? How could I have let myself forget?
God has since restored my joy and reminded me that I’m still His child. Nothing can ever change that. Nothing can ever make Him love me less. And He does the same for all of us. Nobody is ever too far gone, including you. God forgives all those who ask Him to. I will celebrate the fact that my sin has been cast as far as the east is from the west. I will rejoice in the truth that God forgives and forgets–time and time again.