by: Jan Whitaker
2 Corinthians 13:15 states: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you . . ."
Have you ever been asked to do a background check? Have you noticed that our society has increased the requirement for background checks, especially within the workplace? Do you know that you can find the personal history of anyone?
Its seems we are preoccupied with knowing all things, past and present, about everyone. We can easily access contact information, the places where someone has lived, where they have worked, their financial details, who is related to them and what crimes they have committed. This might be helpful if our next-door neighbor is registered as a sex offender or child predator.
When I first started teaching in 1990, I had to participate in a background check. I was fingerprinted and requested to sign papers for the police to do a thorough background check on me. It felt strange and personally invasive; however, I agreed because I appreciated that fellow staff members were doing the same thing. It was reassuring to know my peers had to undergo the same process. I felt this was necessary to protect the children who would be under our care.
Nevertheless, if I had known the background of the teenagers who occupied my class, I might have changed my approach and response to them. For example, Michael shot and killed someone the summer before he entered my classroom. I was unaware that he wore an ankle bracelet under his pant leg. I eventually found out that it was in self-defense. It was later in the year when he spent time with me after school that I discovered his past. By then, we had already established an honest and open communication. During our time together, he renewed his commitment to Christ and changed the negative view he held against himself. He truly found freedom and renewed hope for his life.
Unfortunately, this obsession with our past seeps into and can become part of church doctrine. I remember as a child when taking communion, the above scripture was used to point out my sins. I carefully and fearfully examined and confessed any sins I had committed since the last time I took communion. With increased "self-awareness" and renewed shame, I partook. This is not what God intended for us!
A more accurate interpretation of the above scripture is to remind ourselves as believers that Jesus Christ lives in us. When we "examine" what He did on the cross, His willingness to take our sins, our judgment, our shame and our punishment, then we can see ourselves forgiven and righteous as He planned! That's what it means to be hidden in Christ. Praise God!
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Let's encourage one another to take this view of ourselves and others. Let's set others free by giving them the unconditional love that Christ gives us. We don't need to look at our past to know who we are. We are new creations in Christ! That's the only background check we need as believers!
Cleve and Jan Whitaker are the new WLN Directors. Living in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, USA, they are an active part of Faith Ministries Community Church. Cleve is owner and manager of Capstone Carriers, LLC; a trucking company specializing in flatbed freight throughout the U.S.
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