Sunday, November 1, 2009

the Gospel and Thieves (Deja Vu)

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Last week, my computer was stolen. Again. This time out of my car in my driveway four feet away from the door of my house. I got all the way to church two Thursday mornings ago before I realized it was missing.

It's scary to think someone was brazen enough to break into my car and steal the computer. It's upsetting, and I've been tempted to be really angry about it. How could someone wrong me like that? What would possess them to do it? Could they be capable of worse?

The thing that I'm most frustrated about losing, however, is not a computer. I had a journal in the computer bag that I had written in since 2004. It has hundreds of pages worth of hand-written memories--of graduation, our wedding, Caleb's birth, our move here to Beavercreek. I was hoping to pass it on to Caleb someday.

Those memories are priceless to me. But they're probably sitting in a dumpster or a landfill already--never to be seen by me or my children ever again. Even writing this, I'm tempted to get upset one more time. But God has reminded me once again of the gospel and its implications for how I live my life.

I am a guilty sinner, a thief of sorts, who has robbed God of His glory and rebelled against Him. I am deserving of the death and suffering that Christ endured on the cross. Yet because of His sacrifice, I have been forgiven. And because of His resurrection I have confidence that I too will be raised to eternal life.

So when I think about the thieves that broke into my car, I remember that I am no better than they. I need to forgive them as God in Christ has forgiven me (Eph. 4:32). I recall Jesus speaking to the thief next to Him on the cross and telling Him that--even though his guilt was painfully evident--he would be with Him in paradise. And I realize that I am just the same. Guilty but forgiven.

So these neighborhood thieves, whoever they are, are not beyond forgiveness. God can, and hopefully will, bring them to repentance and faith in His Son.

I think God might also be teaching me to not rely on material things--even sentimental keepsakes like personal journals--for happiness and joy. Journals--and computers and cars and credit cards--can all be stolen. But not my forgiveness or my eternal reward that awaits me!

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