Do you have a person in your life that you just want to avoid? Maybe it’s a parent who nags you. Maybe it’s that friend who only contacts you when she wants you to do something for her. Maybe it’s a coworker who only wants to gossip when you want to get your work done. Maybe it’s someone whose personality just doesn’t mesh with yours. That feeling you have about that person - that you just want to deliberately avoid them - is the word for this week: shun. You can shun a person by purposefully avoiding them all the time, or you can shun a thing, like avoiding alcohol or smoking. But what does that have to do with the Bible? The Bible does tell us about many things we should shun, or avoid. Just look at the Ten Commandments or Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount for a number of examples! But, there are actually times that the Bible instructs us that we may need to shun people as well. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 5:11, which says, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” The apostle Paul here appears to be instructing us to essentially shun those who commit those sinful acts, but why would he say that? Well, there are a few reasons. One reason that Paul would instruct us to shun a person is for our own good and to keep ourselves out of trouble. Paul knew how humans work; if we’re around a habit (whether good or bad), we tend to pick it up ourselves. For example, if we’re around greedy people, we tend to become greedy ourselves. I believe he mentions eating with them specifically, because sharing a meal with someone is a way you really get to know them. Eating a meal with someone is the easiest way to become associated with them. Another reason is for that person’s own good. Maybe telling them in love that they’re doing something wrong isn’t getting through to them, but maybe through the act of shunning they would realize their sin and repent from it. Finally, it is important to note that Paul is talking to the early church at Corinth in this letter, and the sinner in question is a part of the church family. This person is claiming to be a follower of Christ, but his or her actions are completely going against that. Again, this may be a time where shunning could urge that person toward repentance. We should not shun all people who commit sins; if that were the case, how could we ever share the message and love of Jesus with those who have not yet heard about Him? We could take Galatians 6:1 as an addendum to 1 Corinthians 5:11. It says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” If a person is committing a sin (such as those in 1 Corinthians 5:11), we shouldn’t shun them forever, but we should help restore them to right living. Again, though, Paul warns that we need to be careful so we’re not tempted to commit the same sin they fell into. Are you shunning anyone in your life right now? What is your motivation for that - are you doing it so you don’t get dragged into their sin, are you doing it to restore them to a good relationship with God, or are you doing it simply because you don’t particularly like them? Regardless, take note that Jesus calls us to love one another (1 John 4:7-8), not shun one another. We may need to shun them for a time until we can assist in restoring them to right living with the Spirit’s help, but take care that you are showing love to those around you rather than shunning them.
“His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:15-16 [NIV]). I have to be honest with you and tell you that this week’s word, one song and two movies that came to my mind, and the Scripture that the Holy Spirit brought to me have me on a roller coaster of emotions even as I sit here and type this. At the same time, I am fired up and passionate about what God is showing me and I am ashamed of how miserably I have failed at living out what I am about to write. The hope I have in Jesus is that I don’t have to worry about the past, and neither do you. At any moment, we can simply thank God that we are still alive and we can begin to walk in that grace He has given us regardless of what has happened previously. So, understand that you are not alone if you read this and realize you haven’t been living it. I’ll start with the song that came to my mind. It’s at least four years old, yet I still get goose bumps every time I hear “City On Our Knees” by Toby Mac. I urge you to find the song online if you have not heard it, listen to it, and read the lyrics. Here is just part of it: “Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints, two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight, when we step across the line, we can sail across the sea, to a city with one king, a city on our knees”. What amazing words of truth! He continues the thought later in the song: “Tonight could last forever, we are one choice from together, as family, we’re family”. I hope you’ll take a second, or a minute, or as long as it takes, and think about what it means to be united as “family”. We are all sinners, and anyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and believes that God resurrected him from the dead is also a saint, according to God’s own Word. Even so, we have many differences that Satan uses to divide us. We say that we love all, yet so often we are hostile toward sinners and sometimes even saints because of actions or beliefs with which we do not agree. Maybe it’s not about actions or beliefs, but maybe you can’t let go of past hurts or frustrations. Someone has damaged you so badly that you simply want nothing to do with them. If you haven’t seen them, I encourage you to watch two movies that I believe exemplify what it means to welcome sinners into the family of saints: “The End of the Spear” and “Grace Card”. In “The End of the Spear”, you will see what faith, love, and forgiveness can do. It’s the story of Nathan Saint (you just knew that had to be his last name) and his son. Mr. Saint was one of a group of men who traveled to the jungle of Ecuador in 1955 to share the gospel of Christ with an uncivilized tribe of locals known as the “Huaoranis”. However, in January of 1956, he and the men with him were attacked and speared by the very people they were trying to evangelize because of a misunderstanding due to the language barrier. Years later, his son, Steve Saint, was following in the footsteps of his father and continuing his ministry to the tribe when he was confronted with the knowledge that a man he had known all along was actually one of his father’s killers. The man had converted to Christianity, but Steve Saint still had to face the temptation to respond with hostility and vengeance. You’ll have to watch it to see his reaction. A similar plot takes place in “Grace Card”, which came out just a couple of years ago. A father struggles for years with anger toward God for letting his son die from being hit by a speeding car. In addition, he battles his desire for vengeance toward the man responsible for his son’s death even though he does not know who it is. Through the help of a Christian co-worker and some other serious trials in the man’s life, he returns to his faith in God and gets a fresh start with his family. However, his biggest trial comes when he meets the man responsible for his son’s death as the man confesses after having become a Christian. How would you react in that situation? How could a man accept the one who killed his son as a fellow saint, as a “family” member? Friends, we all have people that we would find hard to accept as members of our family of saints. Maybe they are members of your actual, biological family. Maybe it is someone who victimized you or someone you love. Then again, many of us have not had to deal with real tragedies like that in our lives. So who is it for you? Is it the pastor who let you down? Is it the fellow-Christian who is lazy or the one who just won’t give up that sinful lifestyle? Is there a drunk, a cheat, a drug addict, an abuser, or a prostitute that you simply would not be able to accept as a saint if they walked into your home or your church right now and placed their hope in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for their sins? Paul is clear throughout Ephesians 2 that we were ALL dead in our sins at one time and far away from God, but that he has “brought us near through the blood of Christ” (v. 13). The Jews and the Gentiles had a “dividing wall of hostility” (v. 14) that had been caused by their cultures and beliefs about one another. But as the verse I quoted at the beginning says, their hostility was “put to death” by the cross. Paul goes on to say that all who have accepted the cross have become “fellow citizens with the saints and member’s of God’s household” (v. 19). No matter how bad of a sinner you think you are, God accepts you as a saint made holy by Christ’s blood if you accept it and make him Lord of your life. And no matter how good of a saint you think you are, it’s time to accept your “fellow citizens” and members of your “family” that you have previously met with hostility.
A saint is someone who is considered to be holy. The Roman Catholic church has given the honor of sainthood to many people over the centuries. They base that honor on what the person has done in their earthly life, their good works and on evidence of a strong faith and close relationship with God. But even those “saints” are still sinful people. They still made mistakes and didn’t honor God 100% with their thoughts, words, and deeds - just like you and me. There are no true saints on this earth based on the fact that all of us mess up and do things that go against God’s commands to us. Back in the 1500’s, the theologian Martin Luther had a saying: “simul justus et peccator,” which translates to simultaneously being a saint and a sinner. When I heard that phrase as a young teenager, I was really puzzled by it. A saint is a person who is completely good and perfect and doesn’t sin, so how could a person be both a saint and a sinner at the same time? My logical brain said that didn’t make any sense! But when God is involved, anything is possible. Every person on earth is a sinner (Romans 3:23). Every person on earth also has the opportunity to be a saint, since Jesus is the sacrifice that has given us all the opportunity to be redeemed. Go read all of Romans 7 for more on why this is possible, but as a summary here are verses 21-23: “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” The question is, which one are you living your life more like - a saint or a sinner? Are you living each day breaking all of God’s rules even when you know better? Are you testing the limits and seeing how much you can get away with before you get punished? Or, are you trying your hardest to follow Jesus’ example and live as true to His example as you can? None of us can do that perfectly, but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can truly strive for it. We can be “simul justus et peccator” - simultaneously a saint and a sinner.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 18, 2013 0 comments
I remember a story about five years ago involving one of the most exciting football players ever to put on pads in the NFL that ended up getting attention from many beyond the sports world because of it’s content. I’m talking about when then-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was found to be heavily involved in the illegal activity of dog-fighting. He not only financed a large operation in the “sport”, but he also participated directly in training, punishing, and betting the dogs. Most of the public was horrified as the details of what was done to these innocent animals surfaced. Vick was arrested, pled guilty to felony charges, and served a sentence of almost two years in prison. I remember hearing his public apology before he went to serve the sentence, but also hearing many in the media who said that, in order for Vick to change his reputation with the public, he would need to align himself with some sort of organization that stands against dog-fighting and animal cruelty. Being truly broken over his sins and walking away from the lifestyle wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the public. I am sure glad that our Father does not look at us and demand of us what “public opinion” does. In fact, if our reputation-saving actions are not done out of obedience to him, Scripture tells us that they are pointless in God’s eyes. In the Old and New Testaments, the legalistic Israelites made a bad habit out of living in defiance to God while trying to justify it by the law or compensate for it with other good deeds. A perfect example of this that I came across within the past few months is found in 1 Samuel 15. The nation of Israel had demanded that Samuel, their last judge, appoint a king to lead them so they could be like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8:5). Samuel sought the Lord and the Lord allowed Israel to have what they wanted, even though he knew it wasn’t what was best for them. The Lord chose Saul to be Israel’s first earthly king and things went well for awhile, but Chapter 15 is where we see that it all began to fall apart due to Saul’s own pride and disobedience. I encourage you to read the whole chapter on your own and pay close attention to the comparison between what the Lord commands Saul to do and what he actually does. It’s a wonderful picture of how we all live at times, doing what we think is enough to satisfy others and even the Lord, while we know it’s not completely what he commanded. We forget the truth found in James 2:10, that he who “keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it”. Saul was told to attack and completely destroy the Amalekites and everything that belongs to them as a form of punishment from God for what they did to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Saul appears to be obedient at first, as he goes to attack the Amalekites. However, the passage tells us that Saul spared Agag, who was king of the Amalekites, and the best of the sheep and cattle, or “everything that was good” (v. 9). He was willing to destroy anything that could not benefit him later, but chose to keep the “good things” that God had commanded him to destroy. After Saul sets up a monument in his own honor in Carmel (v. 12), Samuel goes to find him and confront his disobedience. At first, Saul claims to have obeyed God fully. Samuel then rhetorically asks in v. 14, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” After Saul tries to blame his soldiers, even though he was their leader, he continues to claim to have obeyed the Lord. He mixes God’s command with what HE THOUGHT was best. He tells Samuel that the soldiers brought back the best of the plunder to “sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal” (v. 21). Samuel’s response is fascinating: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (v. 22). Samuel’s words are foreshadowing for what the next king of Israel would experience in his personal relationship with God when his sin with Bathsheba is exposed. Rather than try to earn back God’s favor with sacrifices or other good deeds, David simply comes before the Lord with humility. “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17). Like David, we must never fall into the trap of thinking we can earn God’s favor, or compensate for our sin like Saul tried to do. We must simply accept that there is nothing we can do aside from coming before the Lord with godly brokenness that will lead us to repentance, and hope that he will have mercy on us. Friends, God knows that you have and will fall short, and a broken and contrite heart is what he desires for you to have because it’s only then that he can bring restoration into your life. If you never get to a point of brokenness over your own sin, then there is nothing for God to restore because you haven’t allowed yourself to be knocked down yet! Remember this: the word “sacrifice” was ALWAYS about what God would do, did, and has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ on the cross, and it has NEVER been and NEVER will be about what you can do for him. When he calls you to give something over to him, you better do it. But that’s the only time you should, because obedience always trumps sacrifice.
When I think of the word sacrifice, I think of all sorts of negative things - having to give up something that I treasure; doing without something important; and dead, bloody animals. The word sacrifice comes from Latin, and it literally means “to make sacred.” That doesn’t really seem to fit my thoughts on the word; or does it? The first sacrifice recorded in the Bible is by two brothers, Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3-8). They were the first children of the first people created. In that story, they both brought part of their stuff to God; Cain brought some of his fruits and Abel brought the good portions of his livestock. Unfortunately, that story ended badly; Cain was jealous of his brother since God saw only Abel’s sacrifice as pleasing, and he killed him. We see another sacrifice in Genesis 8:20, where Noah kills some animals as an offering to God, since he was thankful that God delivered him and his family from the flood. Sacrifices are also used when God makes a covenant (a promise) with His people, such as in Exodus 24:3-8. We see from these examples and others that in the Old Testament, sacrifices were bloody and messy and involved the death of an animal. But what about in the New Testament? Well, the most significant sacrifice we see there is that of Jesus dying on the cross. If you read that narrative in any of the gospels, you’ll see that it was messy and bloody and involved death as well. So in all of these examples, sacrifice is a pretty negative thing, involving blood and death. So why does the word itself literally mean “to make sacred”? That comes from the meaning behind the physical act. Hebrews 10:12-14 says, “But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Jesus’s sacrificial death itself was pretty messy; but the result of it is the opportunity for us to be made holy and perfect! We may need to sacrifice some comforts in this life in order to truly have faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, but because He went through that for us and truly did sacrifice His life for us, we will be made perfect with Him forever.
Do you ever stop and think about how fast life seems to be flying by? One thing that our society has taught us to try to avoid is idle time. We are told or expected to be always “doing” something, working toward some goal, or achieving a new feat. This is especially true as we get older and have more responsibilities, including careers, homes, and families. When we get a chance to think back to everything that has happened, all we can do is shrug our shoulders and ask, “Where did the time go?” We have an old saying that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. While I can agree that laziness or a lack of activity in general just presents more of an opportunity for a person to fill the time with sinful things, I’d argue that hands that are constantly BUSY are also the devil’s workshop. I believe this because God, who knew from the start that human beings would have more difficulty managing their time than any other gift he has given, chose to institute a model of time management that would provide the necessary balance between work and rest. This balance is something we are sorely missing, especially in the United States of America. I just read an article today about a study that showed Americans have a harder time than residents of any other civilized country when it comes to separating ourselves from work on our vacations and other “off” times. With the increases we’ve made in technology, we try to stay as connected as possible because we worry about what is not getting done or how we might be falling behind the competition. Even when we’re doing absolutely nothing else, we have a hard time turning our brains off of work! The problem I’m talking about here doesn’t just apply to our careers. You may be one who has no problem disconnecting from the office, only to spend your time worrying about home, church, or school responsibilities. Those who have mastered the art of true rest probably didn’t have it come naturally to them. It’s a discipline that requires effort and intentionality. My local church even included the Sabbath as one of the sermon topics in a series on spiritual disciplines a few years ago! If you read Monday’s post, you already heard from Katie that God commanded us to take a Sabbath because he knows we need the rest. I’d like to expand that idea and talk to you about why God wants us to rest. While it’s true that we’d get burned out without the rest, I believe it is as much about our attitude and perspective toward everything we do and have than anything else. As Katie mentioned, Genesis 2:2-3 tells us about how God “rested” on the seventh day after working for the first six. While we traditionally think of “rest” as relaxation and maybe even sleep, the verb used in that passage can also be translated simply as “to cease”. Think about “rest” in the sense of the musical term for a brief pause. God simply came to a stop, briefly. But why would God do such a thing? He certainly doesn’t NEED the rest. God isn’t getting burned out. I believe the answer is just a few verses earlier. Genesis 1:31 says that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”. God had seen that things were “good” several other times in Genesis 1, but here is the first time that we read that God saw things as “very good”. The more he made, the more he reflected and appreciated his work. If you’re wondering why I’m making this point, stop and think about the last time you were able to reflect on all the good things God has given you. Most of us would say we are thankful for all of God’s blessings, and we even have a ritual of showing our gratitude to God before our meals. But how often do we truly appreciate all that he has blessed us with? I know for me, it often takes losing something or seeing the hardships of others to get me to appreciate what God has given me. To be clear, thanking God for his blessings is not just about material things and relationships. It’s also about our careers, tasks, and the abilities he has given us to do those things. If we never stop what we’re doing to take time and reflect on all that God has given us, we’ll constantly be thinking about what we wish we had instead of what we do have. Conversely, taking the proper Sabbath of rest and reflection allows you to find more joy and blessing in going to the job God has given you, cleaning that house he has provided for you, or getting that education that many in the world would die for. Friends, the Sabbath isn’t about doing nothing and wasting time. It isn’t about working less or ignoring responsibilities. If anything, the discipline of the Sabbath forces us to work harder on the other days to get everything done so we have the ability to take a day for rest and reflection. In Exodus 16, God provided the manna for the Israelites each day. But on the sixth day, he commanded them to gather twice as much (or work twice as hard) so that they could properly observe the Sabbath the next day. This would give them an entire day to think about how much the God of the universe loved them and provided for them, that he would literally make bread rain from the sky so they could be nourished. After a day of properly reflecting, it would be time to get back to work. Most of us think it would be foolish not to appreciate something so obviously miraculous, but isn’t that where we fail as well? If you think God hasn’t done something as equally miraculous in your life, maybe you need to take a day to just reflect and appreciate him and his goodness to you. If you don’t, you might never find joy in the tasks he’s giving you.
For about three years now, I have taught Biblical Hebrew (and a little Greek) to one student. This past spring, my student has been working hard at writing a paper on Exodus 20:1-17, which is the passage where the Ten Commandments are first given to the people of Israel. One of the verses in that passage is verse 8, which says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” We have discussed this verse at great length and thoroughly analyzed it in the original languages. But first things first; what is the Sabbath? The answer to that is explained in Exodus 20:9-11, the verses immediately after the one I quoted previously. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” So technically, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. What does it mean to remember the Sabbath? We see the first mention of Sabbath all the way back in Genesis 2:2-3, when God had just finished creating everything. God created for six days and then He rested on the seventh day, and we are commanded to follow that model He set forth. There are lots of interpretations on how exactly we should keep the Sabbath day holy. Back in Jesus’ time, the people were very legalistic about it, setting all sorts of rules for what people could and couldn’t do on that day. A few centuries ago, many people observed the Sabbath by going to church, taking a break from their farm work, and generally sitting around and doing nothing. Today, I know people who observe the Sabbath by turning off their cell phones and simply spending time doing fun things with their family. We all need a rest from our labors for one day a week, regardless of how we spend it. If we continuously work 7 days a week, we will very quickly get burned out and not be able to work for God’s Kingdom. Remembering the Sabbath doesn’t have to mean sitting around twiddling your thumbs all day, but it is key that we remember the purpose of it - to honor God by keeping the commandment that He gave us.
Before I get into what God has revealed to me specifically this week about the word “redeem”, I have to tell you that the word was involved in a minor yet memorable change in my life. For many years, my email address was literally “theboss”. I had been a Christian for a long time, but so much of my focus in the way I did things was self-glorification. While I didn’t think much about my email address, I simply never changed it because I didn’t see a problem with jokingly portraying myself as the one in control. I remember a time while I was in seminary that a trusted friend encouraged me to find an email address that would be more humble and consistent with being a minister. I thought about it and realized he was correct, because even something as simple as an email address should reveal the truth about who I am in Christ. I searched ideas to see what was taken and the perfect fit that I ended up choosing was “redeemedrev”, and it is still my address today. This fits because I am nothing without Christ. He has redeemed me from the chains that once bound me, and HE is the boss of my life! If you enjoy Christian music, you are probably aware of the national radio station K-LOVE. This summer, K-LOVE had its first ever fan appreciation awards show. Since the event, the on-air hosts have shared several times that the song that was voted “Song of the Year” is “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. If you haven’t heard the song, here is just a part of its powerful lyrics: “I don’t have to be the old man inside of me ‘cause his day is long dead and gone, because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same, and a hope that will carry me home, I am redeemed”. Doesn’t that sound like freedom to you? Whatever you’ve done in the past, however people remember you and judge your history, and whomever you put your trust in before, you now have a chance to be redeemed from all of that and given a “new name”, a “new life”, and a “hope that will carry you home”. In Monday’s blog post, Katie talked about the thing that we most often think of as what we are redeemed from. She talked about the fact that we have all fallen short of God’s standard because of our sin. I’d like to talk to you about chains. Our sin is definitely one of the things that keeps us in chains, but there is something else that does as well that I think often happens without us even realizing it. The “chain” I am talking about is the law. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should go out and break the law, commit crimes, and be thrown in jail. The “law” I’m referring to is what Paul talks about in Galatians 3:10-14. The apostle is writing to the church in Galatia because many of them were Jews who were being tempted to focus their energies more on obeying their traditional law rather than on what Christ had done for them. He starts it by saying “all who rely on observing the law are under a curse” (v. 10). He goes on to explain, using Old Testament passages, that those who cannot or do not obey ALL of the Book of the Law are cursed. He ends this brief passage by sharing that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (v. 13a). Essentially, Paul is saying that we were doomed the minute we found out that we had to be perfect in observing the law or else be cursed, and that Christ bought us back from that curse so that we could receive the blessing of God’s promises. Paul is urging believers throughout Galatians 3 to stop being foolish in reverting back to relying on their observance of past traditions and “laws”, and to instead rely on Christ’s work of redemption. Think back to the lyrics of that song, and then think about what ways you have not lived and walked in the redemption that you know is yours in Christ. How have you, even after receiving Christ and learning about his sacrifice and work for you, continued to allow yourself to be “chained” by the past? Maybe you still have not forgiven yourself or someone else for things that were done. Christ has bought you back FROM the chains, and WITHOUT the chains. Maybe your reputation has been ruined and your good name tarnished. Christ has given you a new name if you’ve trusted in him. Maybe you are having a hard time breaking away from the “rules” and “laws” that someone else has put on you, the ones that are really just someone else’s traditions and opinions and did not come from God or His Word. Understand that, even if you are cursed by those who put unreasonable expectations on you that were unmet, Christ in your life means that NO set of rules or laws can keep you chained when you are trusting in him. I encourage you to let the fact that you have been redeemed set you free from the stress of worrying about others expectations. Let Christ and he alone be your boss!
One thing that comes to my mind when I hear this week’s word, redeem, is coupons. I love free stuff! Occasionally I’ll get coupons in my email that I can print and redeem for free things, such as a free cheeseburger at a local restaurant, or a free ice cream cone. I enjoy swapping a piece of paper for a treat like that! But the word redeem has a much, much greater significance in my life as well. As the lyrics of one of my favorite Easter hymns states, I know that my Redeemer lives! Jesus Christ is my redeemer. But what does that mean? The word redeem actually comes from a financial term that literally means “buying back.” But what have I been brought back from? Check out Romans 3:23-24: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” I am part of the “all” spoken of in that passage. Because I have sinned, I have separated myself from God. But while I have separated myself from God, I can’t buy myself back into His favor. The only way for anyone to be “bought back” is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is no mere coupon. We can’t just present a piece of paper and receive a right relationship with God. Jesus had to suffer and experience death, so that you and I and everyone else who believes may truly be redeemed from our sin. As Colossians 1:13-14 says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” It is through the redemption brought to us through Jesus that we can have all of our sins forgiven, so that our relationship with God can be restored. And that is WAY better than a free ice cream cone!