Yes, Jesus does forgive us for our sins. Yes, Jesus does cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but there’s more. The reason Jesus does all of this is so we can be of useful service to Him and His kingdom. You have heard it before – we are saved FROM and we are saved FOR. Most of us never get that second part.
The old preachers tell a story about a little boy who heard the circus was coming to town. He begged and begged his parents to allow him to go and see the circus. Finally, his parents relented, gave the little boy the dollar needed for the ticket and told him to come right back home when circus was over. He was so excited that he was unable to sleep, and as soon as his parents would let him, he ran into to town.
“Sit right here,” a nice policeman told him. “You’ll be in a great spot when the circus comes to town.”
Sure enough, in the middle of the morning, the circus unloaded from the train and began its grand march down the middle of Main Street to the big circus tent on the outskirts of town. And the parade was grand, indeed. There were ladies riding ponies, clowns in cars and acrobats riding on elephants. The little boy had never seen anything like it in his life.
As the parade passed before him, the little boy realized the parade was coming to an end. So, dutifully, he walked up to the last clown in the parade (the one walking behind the elephant with the shovel), and the little boy gave him his dollar thinking he was paying for his ticket.
And he went home.
He never saw the circus. He only saw the parade. Like many of us in life, we get a feel for what’s going on, but we never really engage in our lives. We see a lot of previews about what life could be like, we just never see the main event. We pay our money and go home way too soon.
And nobody misses the main event more than Christians – especially evangelical Christians. Go to any evangelical church and you’ll hear a sermon about how Jesus loves sinners. The sermon will end with a deeply felt plea to accept Jesus into your heart and believe He died for your sins. “You can leave today,” the pastor will say, “free from the guilt of your past mistakes.”
All of that is true. All of that is good. The problem is the message stops too soon. Like the little boy who goes home after the parade, we have no idea there is more. There is.