The Wicked Way We Become More Like Jesus

BY DANIEL EMERY PRICE

I'm always surprised to hear people say, “If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing.” But we’re all sinners and we all sin every day. Some of us screwed up a lifetime ago and others fell short just last night. But everyone has THAT thing they would give anything to change. Pay any price to take back. And if you don’t have that… just wait. You may not have lived long enough yet.

I remember believing my own lies. Tell yourself a grenade is a flower enough times and you may just believe it enough to pull the pin. I have. And I blew myself to pieces.

But it’s never just about you. The shrapnel from your own explosion penetrates the souls of everyone around you. As hard reality starts to set in, you can’t bear it. You’re bleeding out as you spit venom, sin, and excuses. Even more shrapnel from your tongue lodges itself in those closest to you. Sin upon sin. It’s like struggling in quicksand. But sadly you didn’t just fall in. You dove in head first thinking it was a hot spring. You mistook the roaming lion of the Devil outside your door for a house cat. Then he ripped you wide open like a Christmas present.

But it’s still your fault, just like it was my fault. We opened the door and tried to pet him.

Many will walk by you, some will step over you, and others will step on you. And who can blame them? This is your fault after all, just like it was mine. But thankfully the story of the Good Samaritan is true for you, just like it was (and is) true for me: Jesus WILL find you.

He will bandage your wounds and put you in the care of others—on his dime. His kindness leads you to repentance and you recover, but you’re not the same. I’ve never been the same. I’ve got terrible scars and a profound limp. The temptation is to dress the wounds as best as I can so I don’t have to answer that dreaded question: “What happened to you?” But even with all the makeup I know if people get close enough they’ll see the disfigurement as plain as day.

Have you been there? The days of people thinking you’re “holy” are over. You’ve tumbled down the mountain of “sanctification” and “Christlikeness” straight down to the bottom.

But maybe that’s a good thing.

 
I’ve never had a better look at Jesus than when I’m lying flat on my back with the walls of my life burning down all around me.
 

Jesus shows up right there. In fact, He never left. It turns out Jesus actually loves sinners: lie-believing, self-deceiving, sin-grenade pin-pulling, scarred-up sinners. He doesn’t show up to shame. He sticks around to forgive, to absolve, to restore, and this does something to us.

After failure rips out our self-righteousness, good reputation, and all the other stones with sins written on them from our hearts—Jesus fills that space with grace and forgiveness. In Luke 7:47 Jesus says those who have been forgiven much, love much. It is in this strange and backwards way that sinners become more like their Forgiver. They become merciful. Quicker to forgive. They empathize with sinners. Sympathize with weakness. And they don’t worry about ruining their reputation with the elite by rubbing up against the unrighteous and unlovely. They are unable to keep silent about the free grace of God, the absolute forgiveness of sins, and the scandalous justification of the ungodly. And many will hate them for it—which sounds a lot like Jesus.

Sin is destructive. It hurts you and other people. It destroys relationships and leaves deeps wounds. Sadly those regrets don’t go away, but thankfully God goes to work even in the middle of our wickedness. He takes the things we would give anything to change and uses them to change us into people who look more like Jesus. It’s backwards, unthinkable, offensive, and true.

Our sins have scarred us all but they have scarred our Savior even more (His hands, feet, and side have the holes to prove it). And He used those scars to bring comfort to a disciple who doubted. 

As the son of a Pastor, Daniel Emery Price was raised in church and various kinds of Christian ministry in a small town in rural Arkansas. He began writing and performing music in his teen years and was heavily involved in worship ministry before moving to Seattle in his early twenties to pursue a career in music. He later moved to Phoenix and returned to leading worship and took a leadership position in youth/collegiate ministry, before moving back to Arkansas where he helped plant Trinity Church NWAin 2009, and he now serves as Pastor. Daniel lives in Northwest Arkansas with his wife Jessica and their daughter Anna. He is a regular guest on theological radio shows, podcasts, and is a conference speaker. Daniel is a Contributor to Christ Hold Fast and a co-host of the weekly podcasts, 40 Minutes in the Old Testament and 30 Minutes in the New Testament. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Scandalous Stories: A Sort of Commentary on Parables.

Twitter @DanielEmeryPrice