(NOTE: I started typing this early last week. Brady Weldon’s message on Sunday morning (9/19) propelled me to finish!)
When Jesus saved me in 1992, he redeemed me. He purchased me. He made me his. Redemption is the act of paying a ransom. I was held captive by my sins and Jesus paid the ransom required to release me from that bondage when he died on the cross. He paid the ransom note 2000 years ago so that in May of 1992 I could be released from captivity. This is the history of my redemption.
There is also a future to my redemption. My redemption will not be complete until my entire being is redeemed. He redeemed my soul in May of 1992. And he will also redeem my body (Romans 8:23) in the future. This redemption will occur when Jesus returns and I am taken to be with him, or, if by that time my mortality has caught up with me, when my body is resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). He will then grant to me a new, glorified body which will complete the payment of my ransom. This is the future of my redemption.
What about the period of time between my release from captivity and the completion of my redemption? So far, eighteen years have elapsed since my release. Who knows how much time remains until my redemption will be completed? So until that day, what power does redemption have upon me in the intervening years between my new birth and my new body? The best way I can answer this is to tell you a portion of my story.
If you know me, you know that I’m a confident guy. I don’t worry much, I don’t let get discouraged often, and I don’t hide my feelings about things. It hasn’t always been this way. Before Jesus saved me, I was shy, introverted, and afraid. I can’t explain to you why I was like that. I was not well liked by many people in my school. I desperately wanted to be liked, but as often is the case, the harder you try to get people to like you, the more you push yourself away. I endured a lot of ridicule from many of the popular people. I must admit that some of it was self-inflicted. Because I was trying so hard to be accepted I could be annoying at times. But the bottom line was that I was being taunted, teased and mocked and I was too afraid to stand up for myself. It was destroying me on the inside.
After I was born again, Jesus began to change me from the inside. My inside was full of insecurity, shame, ridicule and condemnation. My parents were good parents, but enduring ten plus years of ridicule from my peers had made a wreck of me inside. I was angry and the rage was getting worse because I was bottling it up. So Jesus started on the inside. A lot of people have dramatic testimonies of being delivered from drugs, alcohol, and sex. Mine wasn’t like that. I never got into that stuff. My change happened on the inside. He began building in me a new sense of worth and value that even my parents, as much as they tried, could not instill within me. That is what God has been doing over the past eighteen years. That is how he’s been redeeming me in the interim.
You might wonder why it’s taken so long. I don’t have a great answer for you. The hurts and wounds inflicted by my peers when I was younger go very deep. Honestly, I still feel it. After eighteen years, I still occasionally feel the sting from many of the words spoken to me. But, here’s where God has made the difference for me. He’s given me a sense of worth that is greater than my former peers condemnation. I don’t think you ever completely forget the piles of condemnation people heap upon you as a child (I don’t think God wants you to forget so that you can contrast it against what he is doing in your life). The trick is to allow the Holy Spirit to build a greater, stronger sense of value and worth. How God does that for you will be different than how he did it for me. All I can say is listen to Jesus. Jesus will never speak condemnation (Romans 8:1). Jesus will redeem your life as you live it. He will restore the value that people have robbed from you over the years.
Another huge part of God’s redemption process in my life has been redeeming my emotions. He’s taken the anger that once resided deep within me and replaced it with a joy that I cannot explain to you. This joy has changed my heart toward my old tormentors. Once upon a time, I hated them with a passion and I wouldn’t have spit on them had they been on fire. Now that God has redeemed my emotions, the hate I once held is only compassion. I forgave them a long time ago. Can I still get angry at them? You bet. But I find that I only get angry at them if I dwell upon what they did to me instead of what Jesus did to restore me.
So Jesus wants to continue redeeming us after he gives us new birth. That is amazing! He’s not content to let me continue wallowing in the mire of my old life. He wants me to enjoy a redeemed existence while I live on this earth! All it takes is for me to give him the free reign that Holy Spirit desires to have in my life. I must let him into the dark corners. I must let him into the secret places. I must allow him to shed the light of Christ upon the most damning things in my life so that he can redeem those things for his glory and for his purposes. Only then can the time between my new birth and my final redemption be redeemed.