Truth #7,893 that I have a hard time believing: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

The truth I have an easier time believing: “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” as long as I am a good person, go to Church, parent without anger or frustration, read my Bible, etc. You know the list.

So, why do we sometimes have the hardest time believing the most liberating truths? The word in Romans for condemnation can also mean “judicial pronouncement upon a guilty person, punishment, or penalty.” Those are harsh words, but only for the guilty (those who are not in Christ Jesus). Can you imagine truly living a life that is free of feelings of condemnation? I can’t. That feels as foreign to me as knowing how to repair a transmission. I would love to wake up tomorrow, feel completely liberated and live a day free of self-imposed condemnation. What is it about freedom in Christ that simultaneously feels out of reach and like a gift too good to deserve?

I am not sure. But I would love to tell you a story about a guy named Marv.

I was sitting at a Starbucks a few years ago when an elderly man came in by himself. I was a regular at this coffee shop and had never seen him before, so my people-watching algorithm started spinning up. I thought, “He must be here to get a gift card for someone or for the blackest coffee on the planet.” Those are the only options for an elderly man in a Starbucks, or so I thought. The biggest Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks was set down on the bar, and the barista called out, “Marv!” and lo and behold, elderly man Marv got up, grabbed his frap, sat down and drank that frap like he was not breaking some abstract stereotype in my brain. While Marv was drinking his 110g of sugar, milk, and whatever else is in a frap, a mom and a girl around six years old came in. The girl saw Marv drinking what to her probably looked like a milkshake and said, “Why is that old man sitting by himself?” The mom went stiff and quickly told her daughter not to say things like that. Marv said to the little girl, “Because today is a good day to sit and drink something delicious.” The young girl had mentally moved on, and the mom apologized, got her drink and quickly left, obviously embarrassed. Marv eventually polished off that frap, got up and left, and I never saw him again.

I learned two very important lessons that day. First, fraps are for everyone. Sorry, Marv. Second, today is a good day to sit and drink something delicious, and today is also a good day to sit and remember there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That’s it. That’s the answer. For all the hundreds of questions I have and truths I struggle to grasp or integrate, there are even more moments to set aside that angst and drink a frap (unless your doctor says you shouldn’t; this is not medical advice) and take minutes or even seconds to remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. You are free, my friend. I do not have the answer for why it feels so hard to shake the feelings of condemnation, but I do know who can incrementally course-correct my thought patterns. Now, this is the answer, but it is not a one-time deal. My goal is to have more moments of sitting still to remember Romans 8:1 than moments of feelings of self-condemnation. Day by day, I hope I am making progress.

Thanks, Marv. 

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