Is forgiveness all Christianity has for me? I sin, I’m forgiven…then what? Does this cycle just keep repeating itself over and over again?
If you ask the average person what one word defines Christianity, most people say, “forgiveness.” Jesus died to forgive us of our sins, right? Well, yeah, that’s right. Jesus’ death paid the price for our sinfulness and thus allows us to experience the forgiveness of God. For many of us, this is where the gospel ends. We are sinners, Jesus died for us, we’re forgiven.
But is forgiveness all Christianity has for me? I sin, I’m forgiven…then what? Does this cycle just keep repeating itself over and over again? I sin, go to church, pray, I’m forgiven; then I leave church to start the cycle all over again. Is this all there is?
No, there’s more – a lot more. If the only thing that happened at Easter is that Jesus died for sinners, we are stuck (1 Corinthians 15:14-17).
I am grateful for the death of Jesus. Do not read me as making light of the cross or discounting it in any way. But it is the resurrection of Jesus that gives the cross its meaning. Yes, Jesus died for us, but God raised Him from the dead. We have a Savior who lives for us!
The resurrection makes a new relationship with God possible for each of us. What has been lost in our sinfulness (reconciliation with God), Christ restores to us in His resurrection. In Christ, we have been reconciled (brought back together) with God. Because of the resurrection, we get to walk back into the Garden, unafraid and unashamed (Romans 5:6-11).
Forgiveness is the first step of that process, but only the first step. We are invited to become more and more like Christ – to be transformed more and more into His likeness. We are invited to become part of God restoring the world back to Himself. We are written into God’s Story.
Most of us don’t get that. We experience forgiveness, but we never go anywhere after that. We’re clean for the moment, but nothing changes.
Talk about being all dressed up and no place to go! But life in Christ is more – so much more – than this. Forgiveness is the necessary first step, but there are lots of steps after that – steps that take me closer to Jesus and ultimately, closer to home.