“I have agreed to write a blog every week for the next six months”, I told my good Christian friend, Heather. I went on to confess that already my brain had started to freeze, and it was only week three!
“I am a Romans eight girl”, she replied, “verses one and two of The Message translation have had a real impact on my life.”
Quickly turning to the passage, I found these words: “1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”
For Heather, who with the Lord’s help has managed to overcome an eating disorder after nearly 25 years, these words summarise how Jesus has changed her life.
Of course, Heather’s story provides a very specific example of God’s grace and power. Can these words be applied to the day to day existences of believers generally?
I believe so. If we turn again to The Message, this time Romans 10:13, we read that: “Everyone who calls ‘help God!’ Gets help.” God’s blessing is even more eternally beneficial when the same verse is recorded in the New International Version, which states: “ for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
It couldn’t be clearer. Once a person invites Jesus to become his or her Saviour, ‘the Spirit of Life in Christ’, enters their life and frees them from the power of sin and death.
Now let’s be clear. This is not always an instant process. The Bible contains many stories about how people of God continued to make mistakes despite their close walk with him. ‘Righteous’ Noah got drunk; David committed adultery and Rahab had been a prostitute. Yet, each of these people and countless others like them, were ‘counted as righteous by God on account of their faith.’ (See Hebrews 11)
I was ‘slow to learn’, immobile, ‘unable to mix with my peers’ and ‘unemployable’, but now a graduate and journalist who has met a wonderful and (very patient) wife I feel amazingly blessed. Never in my wildest dreams could I have gained all of this without God. Everything I have received is a gift from him. I know that Heather and countless other Christians who were once enveloped by that ‘low-flying black cloud’ in whatever form, can say the same.
All I can do is in return is thank God for his goodness to me, tell my story and simply remind you of what Jesus said in Luke 5: 32: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Joe Boyd (Journalist and Author of ‘Trading Places.’)