Thursday, May 21, 2015

Before Christ vs. After Christ

Its easy to forget who I was before I knew Christ. Especially easy for me because I moved away from the town I grew up in and have little or no contact with the people who knew me then. There's really no one in my life now who reminds me of who I was before I knew Christ and, quite honestly, that's  kinda nice.  It's easy to forget that I wasn't always "the preacher's wife". 
 
I think that most days I like who I am, for the most part anyway. I certainly like me now much more than I liked me before I knew Christ. I guess another reason it is easy to forget who I  once was is that I simply don't like who I was then. I don't WANT to remember what it was like before Christ changed me.
 
Every now and then, I bump into someone who knew me "back when" and I am reminded of who I was. Sometimes a song, a movie, or a picture, will remind me of who I was before Christ changed me and I am filled with a flood of memories and mixed emotions. In the past, Satan used these memories against me. In the past, Satan whispered his lies to me, filling me with guilt and pain. Satan likes to remind me of  who I was, of the terrible choices I made, of my pride and arrogance, of all the times I was disobedient, disrespectful, and, well, just bad. So, for a long time, I worked hard to forget who I once was and to focus instead on who I am in Christ.
 
But not remembering is a very dangerous thing.
 
The longer I am a Christian, the more I realize that it is important to remember who I was, because when I forget who I was without Christ, several things happen...
I become judgmental
I become impatient
I lose compassion
I become prideful and pious
I become harsh and rigid in my expectation of what others "should" be doing
I, in essence, become a Pharisee
 
When I remember who I was without Christ, I am immediately reminded of all Christ has done and is doing in me. When I remember how wretched and undeserving of Salvation I was, I am reminded that the only good in me is the Goodness of Christ and without Him I am nothing. When I remember what it was like to not have Christ in my life, my heart breaks and I am filled with compassion for those who do not know Him. When I remember what it was like to be a new Christian, my lofty  expectations of other Christians are replaced with understanding, patience, encouragement and grace. 
 
I don't like to dwell on my life before Christ. It is much more fun to talk of all the many ways Christ changed everything about who I am. Over the years He has gradually removed the things that did not reflect His love to make room for the things about me that DO reflect Him to grow. So, while I am not proud of who I was and do not want to glorify my life before Christ, remembering who I was without Christ reminds me of how much of who I am now is dependent on Christ in me.

 
And

Remembering who I was without Christ reminds me of how much others need Him.