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When we look at examples of redemption in popular culture, it usually refers to some heroic or sacrificial deed that someone does to make up for past wrongs. No matter how much we "do right," we all are looking for redemption, even when we don't realize it. We search for ways to give ourselves value in the world because, at our core, we feel the ache of insufficiency. We all take wrong turns, and there's no reset option. And as we go forward, our "dark patches" wear us down. There's no way we can prove ourselves because we aren't whole on our own. So how can we start new when we don’t know our next steps?
Sometimes it's hard to seek forgiveness because our instincts lead us toward self-reliance. There are dozens of reasons I can find to hold onto my regrets. If I admit my remorse, does that tarnish the good things that have come out of darkness? What if I was meant to make those mistakes? What if I don't live up to my promise to do better? We think that if we shut down our pain, shame, or anger, we can push through and become who we want to be. We might even think that carrying that weight is how we'll grow stronger. With that logic, when we do things that we know are wrong, we must do good to make up for it. And then we end up chasing acceptance without ever reaching peace. We need to see that our worth does not change based on our actions. Once we embrace the fact that we already have forgiveness, we can embrace the actions that reflect that forgiveness.
As long as we search for relief within ourselves and the world, we never find renewal. We won’t always receive forgiveness from others, and we often don't forgive ourselves. Sometimes, it's not our actions that haunt us; it's the fallout of circumstances that leaves us wondering why we must face so much struggle. We grasp for control that we will never have. We choose our actions, but we don't determine our value.
Our worth was proven long before our lives began. The path to genuine redemption doesn't come from us; it comes from love much greater than we can comprehend. That grace comes through Jesus and His unconditional love. Nothing we do can disqualify us from our purpose when we have faith that He has paid our debts. We have wholeness that we don't have to earn; God has given it to us for free. It's hard to understand that even the worst deeds are forgiven, and even when we think we are without fault, we still need redemption. All it takes to receive it is humility and trust. It won't erase all our problems or worries, but that grace will always give us an opportunity for a new beginning.
So at this point, you might be thinking, "I get it, Jesus forgives our sins, but what am I literally supposed to do?" In Christian culture, we often convey the act of repenting as a straightforward concept, but in reality, there is plenty of room to wonder what it requires. If you haven't invited Jesus into your life, start by learning more about what that means. One verse you may already know is John 3:16, which tells us what Christianity is all about. A few other verses that I like to go back to are:
2 Corinthians 5:17
1 John 1:19
You can check out fun digital resources such as The Bible Project to explore the context of who Jesus is. And while a relationship with Jesus is very personal, it's also important to connect with others as you grow. No matter what questions you have, you can reach out and find support. You don't have to know all the answers to accept Jesus into your life, but you can strengthen your faith when you know more about what you believe.
If you're already a follower of Jesus and you're struggling with guilt or insecurity, you can always go to God with your troubles. (And you can also use the resources I mentioned above!) You don't have to repent in any specific words; you can talk to Him like a friend. When you fully trust that God sees and loves you as you are, you can use His guidance to seek wisdom and seek forgiveness toward any people you may have hurt, including yourself. And you can also find peace to forgive the people and circumstances that hurt you. You may not forget things you did in the past, and you will most likely make mistakes in the future, but every moment in faith is a chance to wipe the slate and do something new.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.