Some People Don’t Want to Believe That People Can Change.
Sometimes having a reputation is a good thing – the good kid, the smart girl, the honest guy, the cheerful giver, the guy who will help anyone. But sometimes, and more often than not, reputations are not so great. They become labels that we can’t shake. The guy who can’t hold a job. The lazy one, the drunkard, the gossip, the angry guy, the wierdo, the loser,
Once we are labelled, once that sin is attached to you, it is seemingly impossible to break free from it. Even when the label no longer fits. Even when you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and have spiritually matured in Christ and repented of these things, and moved on in the power of the Holy Spirit toward Christ-likeness…they can still haunt you. Reputations are nasty, icky, sticky things.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
For most of us, as we grow in grace, we outgrow those labels. They no longer describe us, but there will always be those people who associate us with the sins of our past. Those people who will always see you as the adulterer. The liar. The thief. The angry kid. Defending ourselves is often pointless, even though it hurts to hear it.
I know it happens. It happens to me fairly often. There are those people who say to me, “I can’t believe YOU want to be a pastor! What about the alcohol, nightclubs, debauchery…you used to curse like a sailor, you used to hate God!?”
Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Luke 5:32
And I do it too.
And so do you.
We all like to think of the high school bully as still being a bully 20 years later, because he was a jerk and he deserves to be thought of as one…right? And the guy who was a jerk to his wife and kids, will always be one…right? And the thief on the cross will always…oh wait.
Some people don’t want to believe that people can change.
But people do change, because God changes people.
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
Maybe you never stole anything, or hit your kids, or had an affair, but if you are His child, He has changed you. You are a new creation. Have you not grown in grace? Have you not matured? We have this crazy compartmentalization thing that happens when we think about the grace of God, as if it is only for those people that we like. We say things like, “There is grace enough for all,” “God loves everyone,” “We are all sinners,” but… do we really believe it? Do we apply that to the difficult situation we are facing with that ridiculously obtuse person? What about that unwed girl who had a baby? Does she get God’s grace? What about the guy who was caught in an affair? Or the angry guy? Or the kid who used to trick girls into sleeping with him? What about that guy who hurt you so badly that you can’t even talk to him any more because of the pain?
Do we believe that he is beyond redemption? If we do…then we are playing God. Have you done that? Have you traded in the grace of God for an idol based on a reputation?
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God !~ Romans 3:23
Everyone one of us should have a label. Yet God is gracious. Jesus knows the truth about you. Jesus knows the truth about me.
And He doesn’t care.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:24
Jesus gave us grace beyond measure. And if in our lives we are not offering this same grace to others, then we have not really grasped what grace is. But there is grace for that as well.
To all the hurting souls out there. Those people shackled by the labels they earned prior to being met by Jesus: Hang in there. Just keep at it. Don’t give up. Keep pressing into the arms of God. Pray continually. Walk in the truth. Ignore the haters. And don’t waste your time and energy trying to tell your side of the story. It just frustrates. Words will not change minds, but actions might. And then sometimes, nothing will change peoples minds. There are people who believe that I have not changed. There are people who think that I am just putting on a show with this blog, and the talk about going to seminary. Those people will probably never believe me, because some people don’t want to believe that people can change. So maybe you are sincere. Maybe Jesus really has become your delight. Maybe you really have grown in love, in patience, in gentleness.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer ~ Romans 12:12
Keep at it. The haters will always see the wrong you did. They will always point out when you screw up again, but they won’t see your growth. They won’t see Christ shining in you. And that doesn’t mean that they are not real Christians, it just means they are sinful as well. This is a messy, broken, busted up world, tainted with sin after all. So trust in Jesus. He knows how much it hurts. Don’t waste your time on those who have no grace for you. But do have grace for them, because Jesus had grace for all of you.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast ~ Ephesians 2:8
In the end, your reputation doesn’t matter. That label is put there by men. God has given you a new label. You are a child of God. Let your new life in Christ show by your actions whose label you wear, not by your words or by your social media status updates. Be a walking testimony to Jesus and the immeasurable grace you have received from his hands.
You may suffer. Scratch that. You WILL suffer, but don’t lose heart, his glory will be enough. Don’t put your hope in this world or the people in it, put your hope in the promises of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18