I drive Interstate 75 every day to and from church. My drive isn’t that bad except for when I encounter select drivers, surprisingly all from Ohio usually. I pass a few gas stations on my daily commute, but there is one I pass that gave me an interesting perspective on our new life in Christ. About ten miles into my commute I pass Botkins, a small community north of where I live in Anna. At this exit there is a large church, a small hotel, and a gas station/food store. The big sign for this gas station and food spot has two sides, like most signs, but this one is slightly different. Driving south on I75 you will see the sign read what is now occupied by this gas and food spot. Driving north on I75 is a different story. Most signs read the same information on both sides, but this gas station reads two totally different gas companies and food stops. This is really no big deal and no news would ever pick this story up because of how insignificant it is to everyone. The sign once read the same message on both sides, but the high winds tore through the cheap material they used to cover their old sign and now one side says what they used to be, while the other says what they are now.
I get roughly 50 minutes on my commute each day and in that time I’m able to think and reflect on many things, mainly on where some people get their licenses, but other times on deeper issues. Passing this sign each day caused me to reflect on who I used to be before I met Christ. Each of us had a past before we met Christ. For some, you were ordinary people living ordinary lives. For others, you lived a rough life and have a tainted past. Where ever you landed on the spectrum, the fact remains that each of us had a past before we met Christ.
Too often we’re much too like the sign I pass on Interstate 75—on one side we read true and it’s all polished and nice looking, but on the other side we keep the old tattered side that’s false and dirty. Far too many Christian’s give their lives to Christ and continue living the same way before they met him. If I’m minding my own business walking along a train track with my hands in my pockets and kicking rocks as I walk while I hear the sound of a train coming, wouldn’t I be changed for life when someone pushes me out of the way? Would I walk along the tracks again hoping someone else is going to push me out of the way or would I realize that my path led to death?
I think far too many of us walk this same path. Our minds automatically go to the “other guy” whose sin is more extreme than anything we’re going through. Our minds go to the guy who still struggles with addictions like alcohol or pornography, or the person who still hangs around the same scene, or the person who commits adultery, but shouldn’t our minds be like that of Christ? Paul said in Romans that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and that means everyone—not just the “extreme” sinners (Romans 3:23). That means you who gossip about anything and everything. That means you who tell “little” lies to protect yourself from judgement. That means you who judge those who have the speck in their eye when you have a plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:5). All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, which means all of us have walked the path of “Who we used to be VS. Who we’re trying to be” at one point in our lives.
Jesus died to give us a new life. Paul says “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We who were once on a path to death, have received a new life because of Christ’s death. Paul also said, “For the wages of sin is death” and if all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, then death is an acceptable punishment for what we have done, but God gave us a way to be free—a way to be new. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus died so that we may have life. That’s a truth that will withstand the test of persecution and even time itself. What I’m interested in is what Jesus was interested in, and that’s life change. Not life change so you can get rich, be healthy and have everyone respect you for your role in society, but life change because of the cross. Not living a double sided life where you’re polished, true and nice looking on Sunday and tattered, false and dirty throughout the week. I want to leave you with one question to reflect on: What side are you living in?
Romans 3:23 // Matthew 7:5 // 2 Corinthians 5:17 // Romans 6:23 // Colossians 3:1-17