“…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” — Hebrews 12:1,2
I believe the absolute worst thing about the American version of Christianity is that we want to keep our sin along with our salvation. We love money, so we call it “prosperity, or being “blessed by God.” We like our immorality, so we go ahead and call sinful behavior “issues” that we are “born with” and therefore can’t do anything about. We like our entertainment, so it doesn’t matter to us if the movie or the concert has f-bombs or takes the Lord’s Name in vain.
But, here is the thing: If you choose salvation through Christ Jesus, our main verse says you are to lay aside sin. In the context of the verse, it is so heavy that you can’t carry it and run the race of following Jesus. Sin keeps you from ever leaving the starting gate. The first move of salvation is to repent. One who does not know Jesus must pray to Him and ask for the forgiveness of his or her sins. I remember doing this as a teenager. I also remember being clean for about three days; I very quickly and very easily picked my sin right back up and carried it with me. I do remember it being a conscious decision. I knew what was right, but I chose to do wrong.
I didn’t realize it then, but it kept me from running the race. I went to church, so everyone, including myself, figured that I was running. I would be in college before I would have a serious awakening. I was talking with one of my friends about religions. His attitude was that they were basically all BC (That’s the Christian version of BS). I told him about Christianity and why I believed it. He proceeded to tell me how it obviously made no difference in my life because I behaved no differently than he did. That completely shut me down because I had no defense.
I was still carrying my sin. I hadn’t covered any of the ground that I thought I had covered. I was still at the starting line. I might have thought I was running, but the lost people around me knew better. I was completely ineffective to the lost people who really knew me. They were supposed to see my life as a contrast to their own. Instead, it was pretty much the same.
In a similar way, I believe that is where the American church is today. We say we believe in Jesus Christ. Most Christians have probably asked for the forgiveness of their sins. Yet, the majority of them found out quickly that laying sin down and leaving it there is a lot harder than it sounds. Therefore, we pick it right back up and become ineffective for the kingdom. The world sees us being angry because love, joy, and peace is a fruit of the Spirit and can only be developed while running the race. The world sees us being very demanding and controlling because patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are fruits of the Spirit that can only be developed while running the race. The best part of it though, is that if you will really and truly lay your sin down, and I mean the known sins that you are very much aware of, the fruits of the Spirit you have will be authentic. Love, joy and peace will not be these temporary things that the world will see only when our circumstances are perfect. When things don’t go our way, it will not be possible for them to rightfully call us hypocrites.
The only way to win our country back for God is for the Americans who call themselves Christians to really lay down their sin. No more name-calling, no more judging of people who make no claim of believing as we believe. No more arrogance and looking down upon anyone . . . but for the grace of God, we would be exactly the same.
Ask yourself, “Is there is any known sin that I am willfully carrying around?” If the answer is “yes,” set it down and start running the race for real. Until you do, you haven’t even started.
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