East to West

I love music. I find that music touches me on a much deeper level than almost any other stimuli. I sing songs all the time – just ask my husband. I make songs up, I sing hymns (sometimes with made up words too), I sing choruses, I sing jingles and tag lines from commercials, and sometimes I just hum to hear my own voice. I’m not a particularly gifted musician, but I appreciate those who are and I just love music. I think many tough concepts can be expressed effectively through music in ways where ordinary words fall short.

There’s a new music website I stumbled on that lets you create play lists of free music tracks (I have it linked to this blog in fact, and the music you hear is from my play list). Praise and worship music is my favorite kind of Christian music, but I have a decent variety of music styles on that list – everything from old hymns to opera to hip-hop and rock to secular pop music.

One of my favorite Christian groups is Casting Crowns. I love their style and sound and I think they’re just an awesome group! One of the songs they have recently covered is called East to West. The song talks about how as believers, once we ask for forgiveness the Lord does so to the extent that he doesn’t even remember our sins. But, we are so trapped in our humanity that we have to constantly be reminded that we’re forgiven. Instead of letting our past go, we carry it around in our pocket as a thorny reminder of who we used to be, and what we can become again without Christ.

I’m as guilty of this as the next person. All too often, I wallow in the sins of my past; commiserating the wretched person I was and questioning how God could have ever forgiven me. It is said that memory is a gentleman, but I’d have to disagree with that sentiment when it comes to remembering my own history.

There is good news though! The Bible tells us that once we accept Christ we truly do become brand new!

“…those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

So why is it that if God makes us new, we desire to hang on to the old? Why is it that we not only look at our past sins, but the past sins of others?

When we were in Argentina, we met a wonderful man of God, Carlos, who was working hard in the church in Buenos Aries. He was faithfully studying his Bible and praying daily, he was preparing sermons and Bible study lessons, he was witnessing to his family and his neighbors, he was growing and maturing in the Lord, and he had a truly Christ-given desire to serve the church there and see God work and change lives. But the church wasn’t growing and thriving as one would have though with such a dedicated servant at the helm. Sadly, before our trip was over we discovered the cause of the stagnation. Other church members had grown up with Carlos. They knew his past and they hadn’t forgiven him or forgotten who he was before he was saved. Despite the new creation in Christ Carlos had become, others couldn’t let his past die and it was sorely affecting the church there. It wasn’t long after we returned to the States from that trip that Carlos left the church….

All too often, in order to appease our own conscience, we get caught up in keeping score when it comes to the sins of others. We forget that the Cross was for everyone, not just us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 should serve as a constant reminder to us as Christians of how we should live our lives. It’s not an accident that the Bible says that it is by grace we have been forgiven by God; therefore it is by grace we are to forgive others as well. Since God has tossed my sins as far as the East is from the West, then as a Christian I need to do the same for others.

“Dear heavenly Father, Thank you for forgiving and forgetting my sins. Help me to show the same kindness to others. Please allow me to be an encourager and up lifter to my Christian brothers and sisters who may be struggling with their past. Give me the right words to remind them that they are a new creation in you Lord; their past has been thrown away and their slate has been wiped clean. Thank you for Jesus; without whom I’d be lost. Amen.”

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