On Sunday (I know, I know) we had to make a trip to buy a new light for our living room. Our 10 light fitting had become more of a 2 light show, unless you tapped the shades, when they would come back to life – not very safe. Anyway, I digress. The point being that it was rapidly approaching closing time and the tannoy announcements were becoming more and more demanding that people left the store. We ended up having to make a snap decision on what to buy. On this occasion, I think we made a good choice, but not all snap decisions are good or reliable. Sometimes a more considered approach is needed, and much more illuminating!
16 We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be, though we once judged Christ in that way. 17 Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. 18 God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.
19 What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. 20 We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 21 Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.
Following on from yesterday’s Psalm, this passage picks up the theme of being forgiven – the past is forgotten and everything is new – but takes it one step further. Because to be forgiven, one has to act in forgiveness.
- not judging people by what they seem to be – what they seem to be, may not be what they are. We can all put on a front, a mask. We can use it to cover up shyness, fear, vulnerability, hurt… We can’t necessarily judge what we see, because what we are seeing is not always the truth, it is not the struggle, it is what someone can cope with us seeing. We need to get to know someone much better before we make any decisions about them – and we certainly shouldn’t be judging them.
- the past is forgotten and everything is new – whatever might or might not have happened before need no longer have any bearing on today or tomorrow. When we belong to God, we are made new. That applies to me, to you, and every other person in this world. If we do not want judging on what we might have done in the past, we should give others the same privilege. Whatever I have got wrong before can be wiped away by God – and the same is true for you. It is also true of those whose past I may prefer to remember. It can be so easy to start dredging up old arguments or past slights – but they are gone and done with – forgotten and made new by what God did in sending Jesus.
- Jesus has made peace between us and God, and he calls us to the work of sharing that peace with others. We cannot share peace with those we are sitting in judgement on, or those we are caught up with their past. To share God’s peace we need to be at peace – both with ourselves, and with those around us. If we do not live peace, how can we share it? People cannot see what is not there…
Christ offers peace and forgiveness to everyone. You, me, each and every person. How amazing is that?!
And now we are sent to share that message of peace, of forgiveness and the possibility of a new start. How will you do that today? How will I?