When I was 10 years old I remember going to town on the bus with two friends from school who lived nearby. One friend I knew well the other not so well. One of these friends set a challenge of shoplifting. I had been well brought up and knew this was wrong. However, I felt compelled to appear ‘big’ in front of my friends. I stole a blank key from one shop and a packet of fruit polos (remember those?) from another shop. I didn’t even like fruit polos! And I had no use for a blank key! But I felt part of the ‘gang’. I also felt really bad. I felt bad because I knew how disappointed my parents would be if they found out. Later that summer I attended a Christian camp at Bryntirion, Bridgend. I don’t remember the person who spoke, or the Bible verse he spoke from, but I do remember the awful feeling I had. My concern about disappointing my parents with shoplifting was nothing compared to offending God with my wrong thoughts, actions and words. My offences were so much more than stealing a packet of polos! My offences separated me from God, my maker, and would do so forever if I did nothing about it. It was a horrible feeling that I later knew to be called ‘conviction of sin’. By God’s mercy, I was also shown that Jesus Christ, in dying on the cross, took the punishment I deserved for all my offences against God. Not just stealing a packet of polos but all my offences past, present and future! My sin was not just wiped out. I wasn’t just made ‘neutral’ before God but I was given the righteousness of Christ. In other words, God looks at me and sees the perfection and righteousness of his perfect son, Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus Christ has done for me I will be able to go to heaven. Amazing! Why would anyone turn that down? My salvation is secure – Jesus Christ says,
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10 v 28
It does not mean that I no longer sin or that I in any way am ‘holier than thou’. It does mean that I am still learning to avoid the things that can interfere with my relationship with God. Nobody can be sin-free in this life but we can be right with God,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1 v 9.
When things are going well in my life I can give glory to God. Being ‘right with God’ is a tremendous source of contentment even when the trials and disappointments of life intrude.