I was listening to a song today called ‘Covered’ which was talking about how our sin is covered by Jesus’ grace. I thought again how wonderful it is.
As it was playing, I saw in my mind an old sofa, worn and weary after years of being used and abused being given new covers and looking like new, ready to face another lifetime of being sat on, climbed on etc.
A lovely picture, isn’t it?
But then I thought some more…
That might work for a sofa, having new stuff put on top of the old stuff and being made to look like new. What about for us, though?
What if I came in from a day working in the garden (Hahahaaaaa) filthy and dirty with my clothes torn from a fight with the brambles and remembered that I had to go out and had very little time. Instead of getting changed, I put on some lovely clean clothes over the top of my dirty ones so that they were completely covered and no-one could see them. I would look completely different, wouldn’t I? Much better from the outside. Nobody would be able to see the dirty, torn clothes that were underneath my new outfit.
It wouldn’t take long before the clothes underneath would begin to bug me. I’d feel better for a little while before becoming so aware of the dirt hidden underneath that it no longer felt as good. I’d feel like a fraud knowing that the people around me saw me looking clean and fresh but the reality was so different. I’d start to worry that the mud and dirt might start to stain the clothing on top and show through. It would get to the point where I would want to take myself away from other people so that no one would notice.
I wonder if that’s why so many of us as Christians become so ineffective so early on? We realize that we are dirty and damaged and come to Jesus having been told that his death on the cross and resurrection covers our sins. We feel great for a while but it doesn’t take long before we start to wonder how long it would take for the real us would show through? We start to feel like frauds, telling people how wonderful Jesus is and what a great thing his dying on the cross was but constantly thinking about the dirt, the sin inside us that Jesus is masking by covering us with his blood.
We try so hard to live as a Christian, free and happy because of what Jesus has done for us but every so often, we get bogged down in all of the stuff that is underneath the covered bit. We start to doubt that God could really love us when he looked below the surface and saw ‘the real me’. We go over and over in our heads all those things we did (and still do!) which separate us from him and feel guilty again for things that we had been forgiven for.
So maybe the idea of being ‘covered’ is not the right idea at all. Maybe it’s more than that. Not a makeover but a do over.
The bible says, in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone; the new is here!” and Romans 6:4 says, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” In Psalm 103:12 it says that God has removed our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west.”
Not covered. All of the old stuff, the bad stuff is gone. We are made new. Completely new. The old gone. We live a NEW LIFE!
So when you start to wonder how long it will be before the stains show through, know that they won’t.
When you start feeling like a fraud because at some point, someone is going to know who you really are, know that you are NOT that person anymore.
When you get bogged down in remembering the past and feeling guilty all over again for things that you did way back when, know that they are GONE. Another verse in Isaiah says that God remembers them no more. He doesn’t think about them whenever he looks at you. He sees the new person that you are.
In the story of the Ugly Duckling, the main character was a beautiful swan long before he saw it for himself. He still lived as though he were that ugly duckling, expecting to be treated badly and disliked because of all that he thought he was. At the point that he saw himself as he really was, he started living differently with the confidence of knowing he was special and beautiful and new.
When we hold on to the idea that underneath we are still the same person we were before we found Jesus, we will never be able to live in the freedom that has been given to us by the grace of God. We will see ourselves as dirty and worthless. We will feel like frauds just waiting to be found out.
Instead, we need to see ourselves as God sees us. We need to understand, really understand, that what Jesus did when he died on the cross was to make us new. Not a refurb. Not a bit of plastic surgery to cover up the ugly bits. Not put a new outfit on us on top of the old one. Not covered but made new.
Can you imagine the people that we would be and the impact that we would have on the world if we all started living our new lives without getting bogged down in the old one that God has chosen to forget?
We would smile more – something which we all seriously need to do! We would have the confidence to use the gifts that God has given us without worrying that we’ll be found out. People would look at us and want to know what it was that we had and where to get it for themselves.
We could start a revival!