June 5, 2023

“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

-2 Peter 1:9

I have yet to speak to a single biker, out on the road, who doesn’t have a past, whether it is good, bad, or just horrible.  What catches me off guard are those who think they are too far gone and that they are beyond salvation.  I have heard some people say things along the lines of “God won’t want someone like me, especially if He knew the things I have done.”  To me, someone who has that mindset is so broken and hurt that simply telling them about Jesus is not going to be enough, you have to share what Christ has done for you and reveal to them just how powerful salvation is by grace through faith.  

They don’t understand that it isn’t about who they were, or even who they are right now, it is about who God has designed them to be.  Their frame of reference is not one of biblical truths, it is one of worldly truths.  They know how others have treated them because of their past.  We see it in the news almost daily.  Some politician did this, that, or the other, twenty years ago so now they are unfit to hold whatever office it is that they are seeking.  Twenty years is a long time for someone to grow beyond that embarrassment from their past, and to be a better person.  Of course twenty years is a long time for that same individual to go even deeper down that dark path and still be plagued by the same behaviors of their past.  

The world is the harshest and most unforgiving judge, the world will throw your past in your face constantly, reminding you of who you were and trying to convince you that you are no different and that you will never change.  It happens to every single one of us, at some time in our lives or another.  It can be in our own relationships with our significant other, it can be within our family, it can be anyone and anywhere in our lives.  I hesitate to bring this up but when I think about this, I think about my sister.  Now let me first say this, I am more proud of my sister than any brother ever could be and I love her dearly.  But I will also say that there was a time when I felt like my sister was beyond hope and that she would never escape her past. I was one of those who used her past as a tool to punish her and for that I am deeply ashamed.  But here is the thing, we have both grown, we have both changed.  My sister has overcome years of addiction and now she uses her story to help others navigate those same waters to recovery as she has.  She is so great at leading and helping others that she, herself, is now a counselor.  

I have grown in that I am fully aware that she is not the same person she was 20 years ago and I am humbled by the lessons I have learned from her life.  She may or may not kill me for saying all of this, but I know she knows the power of testimony and her story has reached more than my own probably ever will.  She’s dealt with experiences I could never fathom and that gives her an outlet to reach those that I probably never could.  The point is, we both grew beyond our past and our prior mindsets.  I now preach every Sunday and I seek to lead others to Christ from the pulpit as well as using my motorcycle for evangelism with my brothers and sisters in the Baptist Bikers.  My sister is now a counselor and she helps lead others down the path of recovery from their addictions.  

Regardless of what our past is, or even who we are at this very moment, we are not beyond the grace, love, and mercy of Jesus Christ.  Too many times people think their past has somehow disqualified them from that free gift of grace.  They could not be more wrong.

But the power of the gospel is that we have hope in the newness of life, and there is a resurrection story for us.  Look at these words, as shared by the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

-2 Corinthians 5:17

Seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it?  It doesn’t say “if some people are in Christ,” it doesn’t say “if a select few are in Christ,” no, the verse says if ANYONE is in Christ then they are a new creation.  Your past is behind you and your future lies before you.  If that isn’t enough to convince you, consider the author of this powerful verse.  The apostle Paul, but he was not always known as the “apostle Paul,” he was better known, in his past, as Saul, one of the greatest persecutors of Christians that we have record of in the Bible, even supervising the murder of Christians and demonstrating a desire to see Christians murdered.  He was out killing God’s people and you think your past is bad?  

Saul’s encounter with Christ, on the Damascus road, radically transformed him, he was a new creation.  Paul was one of the greatest ambassadors for Christ, he grew beyond his past because he accepted the free gift of grace.  Others may have still judged him for who he once was, but God knew him only as one of His children and his past was no longer who he was any longer, but he used his past in his testimony as he led others to Christ.  Every single one of us is not beyond redemption, we are never too far gone for God’s love.  The truth of the matter is that we must surrender our lives to Him and restore ourselves to a righteous standing with Him by grace through faith.  These last words I will share were revealed to the prophet Isaiah and they tell us of the promise of our future for those of us who surrender our lives to Christ:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”

-Isaiah 65:17

When we are set apart for God, our past is forgotten and never to be remembered.  That is a love so unconditional and so undeserved that only the maker of the heavens and earth could possibly extend it to us.

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