"The Struggle" is all too real for sinners like me.
On an average day, I like to consider myself a decent Christian. My personal qualifications for such include things like holding the door for the person behind me, smiling at passersby, engaging in friendly conversations, reading my bible and daily devotionals, attending campus ministry meetings and church, and not doing a lengthy list of other "sinful" acts. I try to live out the Christian life, doing my best to ensure everyone that I encounter knows I am a Christian through my words and actions. I successfully fooled myself for a while, thinking I was less sinful than many of my counterparts, that I was a better Christian simply because of what I did or didn't do. But who was I kidding? Who am I kidding?
What a joke I had made of my struggle with sin (or pretended lack thereof.) How foolish of me to think that I could clean away my sin like I clean my room. How ignorant I was to think that I could ever be deserving of the remarkable extent of grace God permits me every single day. How prideful I was to believe that I could create in myself a clean conscience. (see Psalm 51: 10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.") The purpose of Christ's birth, life, and death must have merely slipped my mind. The reality that God sent his son to wash away my sins for eternity must have seemed too good to be true. Clearly, I had envisioned my own sin as something I could manage. I thought that if I did enough good deeds, prayed with enough conviction and regularly attended church, I could sweep my sin under the doormat, and maybe God wouldn't notice.
Newsflash: God sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good. So be good....for goodness sake? Be good... so people will see you doing good deeds? ...so you will feel content with yourself? ...so you can fool God into thinking you're truly a good and deserving child of the King? I THINK NOT. God doesn't turn a blind eye to our sins. Even further, he knows our sins before we commit them. We were born sinners, we live like sinners, and we will die sinners. The truth of the matter is, no matter what we do on this earth-- good or bad, moral or immoral-- we will always sin. There's no loopholes around sin, no way out of its cycle.
What a story this reality makes... a King who creates a beautiful world, then gives life to the very beings that will make it corrupt; so corrupt, in fact, that He will send his son into the world to wash away the sins of all people. However, even after all this, the ultimate sacrifice to save humanity, sin still exists. The sin struggle is still all too real.
However, forgiveness is not a struggle for God. This is (at least for me) a hard concept to grasp, but for some reason (called love), despite our sin, despite our pride, despite our worldly desires, God continues to offer forgiveness. Even more wild is the fact that God's forgiveness comes before we even ask for it--if we ever do ask for it. So... THANKS BE TO GOD!!! How awesome is it that all of this is true? How relieving it is that God knows us, he knows our sins, our pride, our worldly desires, and yet he still loves us and forgives us.
If you've finished reading this and the concept of forgiveness still hasn't sunk in; it hasn't made you laugh or cry or jump out of your seat or reevaluate your whole life...... that's okay. It took a long time-- eighteen years of Sunday sermons, youth conferences, church leaders, discussions about faith with my family and friends, and campus ministry experiences-- to understand the magnitude and meaning of God's forgiveness. I always knew I wasn't supposed to sin, and yet I always knew I would. What I had always been told but was too prideful to recognize was that God's forgiveness is so much greater than all of my sins--all of the times I don't hold the door, or don't smile at passersby, or fuss or fight, or sleep in instead of going to church (just to name a few).
But now I know.
I know that God didn't bring me into the world to be a perfect being. I am not the reincarnation of Christ, and in fact am nowhere close. I sin every single day. I also pray every single day. Do the two balance out? No. Will my sins and God's forgiveness ever equate? No. That's the cool part about God. He loves us. He loves sinners. He loves you and I, and our flaws, and our mistakes.... because He loves forgiveness.
So, even though the sin struggle is still real, so is God's gracious, loving forgiveness. (Cue sigh of relief.)