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How do you see yourself? A “really good person,” who deserves to go to heaven when you die?
Or at least “as good as most people”?
The Bible says something else: For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We deserve Judgment (see Hebrews 9): But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.…And Jesus reiterated: What will it profit a man if he win the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Instead of Judgment, which He took upon himself at the Cross, Jesus promises: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly. (John 10:10).
Sin is the opposite of abundant life, and sin affects all parts of our being; there is no part of us, whether in intellect, emotions or will, which is not free from the curse of sin.
The signs of sin are everywhere; just look at what’s happening in the world around you, from politicians who use their positions for power and money rather than service, to parents who neglect their children in order to pursue their monetary or career goals, to drug pushers who don’t care how many lives they help to destroy, to husbands who walk away from their wives and children, etc., etc..
Sin can be active rebellion of passive indifference, but at bottom it is a refusal and/or an inability to love, since the “great commandments” are to “Love God heart, soul, mind and strength” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Who really does that? I know I don’t. We are all sinners, needing forgiveness, cleansing, renewal through the Holy Spirit so we can face The Great Assize with confidence, not fear. (Perfect love drives out fear, says I John 4: 18.)
We can—you can—experience this forgiveness and new life right now if you realize the meaning of Good Friday and Easter, kneel beneath the Cross and peak into the Empty Tomb, and ask Christ in and surrender to the Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1: 27) We then realize that we, unlovable as we are, are loved anyway, by the very Source of our life, our being, all life and being! The Bible, asserts this amazing truth, starting with Isaiah 53—All we like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all, to Romans 5:8: But God has proved His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3: 24)
The trouble is, many people do not feel worthy of this love, not realizing that No One is! Maybe they are in spiritual rebellion, or they feel disappointed with God. They may have been severely wounded spiritually through the abuse of parents or priests or other “care givers.”
The good news is that these painful memories—and the serious life judgments that spring from them, such as trust no one, look out for #1, get all you can, etc., can be healed, transformed through simply facing them and asking Jesus to come in, and do whatever He wants, to heal them. I saw it happen again and again in a jail in California, and even in local jails in La Trinidad. When Jesus enters a troublesome memory, it changes, as if He says to the raging wind and sea, “Peace, be still.” Peace really comes, in particular when the person replaces hurt and anger with acceptance and forgiveness to the perpetrator. Jesus really helps them replace feelings of sorrow and a desire for vengeance with actual love for the “enemy”, even the one inside their head. (As He commanded us all to do.)
For example, one man in his 40s who had a serious anger problem, and had been in trouble most of his life, had a terrible memory of his step-dad holding a rifle to his face (a five year old) and saying, “I’m gonna blow your f—in brains out.” When we prayed, he saw Jesus come into the scene, take the gun out of dad’s hands and put it on the floor, and then give the guy a hug. After that the other guys in his “tank” saw this man at peace for the first time.
Yes, sometimes that “enemy” is not just in our head, but it is a deep part of ourselves that we are ashamed of, even angry at. Can you imagine what Peter felt, after he denied the Lord?
An Inner Healing*
(Read: Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27; John 21:11-19)
Where do you go, after you’ve denied your Lord?
When a fire’s warmth feels better than staying near your hero in trouble?
When a serving maid can get to you with “You’re one of them, aren’t you?”
When fear wells up and grabs you by the throat and tempts you
into tromping on the truth, and you want to save your skin so badly,
you’ll deny you know your best friend?
You wish the whole world were dark, so you can hide.
So Peter, ego-boosting and now busted premier disciple,
went into the dark, and wept bitterly:
Jesus’ main man, turned into a quivering,
moaning hulk of typical fallen humanity.
Where do you go, when you’ve turned your back on God? Nowhere.
There’s nowhere to go, for God is everywhere.1
And the eyes of every soul would remind you of Jesus,
looking at Peter,2 after the sin.
Peter went fishing.
But the master fisherman went too, went fishing for the Rock 3
upon whom he’d build the church, didn’t want that rock to sink too deep.
So, having helped the men catch fish again,4 he serves them breakfast,
over a charcoal fire, and reels the big rock in.
“Do you love me, Peter?” Three times he asks it.
Three times Peter answers, “I love you, Lord.”5
Three times Jesus responds with “Feed my sheep”—
as if to say, “You can serve me, Peter,
you can serve me, you can serve.”
So Peter hears his soul say he loves his Lord— he needed that—
and knows he is forgiven, since he is recomissioned for service.
And ever after, whenever he thinks, “I denied him, I denied him, I denied him,”
he’ll think of the fire, and of the fish, and of his Lord, not mentioning his sin,
just accepting his so imperfect love, and sending him forth to serve him,
proclaim the Good News, and even die for Him,
sending him forth to feed others,
sending him forth to love. —HPK
1-Ps. 139; 2-Luke 22:61: 3-Matt.16:18; (“Petros”=”rock”.) 4-Luke 5:1-11; 5- Jesus wanted “agape”—selfless love.
All Peter felt he could give was “filia”, friendship. Jesus accepts it, accepts him!
* If you or your group would like to learn more about inner healing or a protocol for acceptance, FB message me at Pete Kuiper,
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.; text at 09206330016.