by: Carole L. Haines
As we reflect on the freedoms Christ purchased for us with His precious blood, shed on the cross, one stands out to me above the others today, Freedom from condemnation
“16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one by the flesh; even though we have known Christ by the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their wrongdoings against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-19)
I want you to take mental note of the verse I emboldened above. as I recount the following to you. Keep in mind that we are not to recognize each other anymore according to our worldly points of view. I have told this to countless people, but it is always worth telling again. We are taking a trip into the jungle today, the rainforest to be exact. As we journey beneath the trees and through the dense foliage, I want you to take note of the 3 layers of this ecosystem.
The first is called the forest floor, this represents the deepest parts of ourselves, obscured by overgrowth much of the time, but it is what supports our feet as we walk. I believe this is where we learned most of how we interact today, it is where our roots were set down as young children, it is how we learned to cope and recover from life’s stormy blasts.
At the top of the trees is a wonderland known at The Canopy, this shelters us and protects us from the scorching sun that would dry us out if it did not exist. I believe this represents the protection we have in Christ as His followers. I believe it also represents the part of us most people see as we walk through life. It is a thin layer of shielding, but it is there nonetheless.
In between these two layers lies the biggest part of this rcosytem, it is literally called The Understory of the Forest. This is where we spend most of our time living, growing, learning. We all have our own unique understory that only God knows the depth of. We let our closest friends and family in this place, but others remain in the canopy, the courtyard, so to speak. In the 2 Cor. 5 passage we are compelled to no longer recognize each other according to our fleshly ways of thinking. The word ‘recognize’ literally means:
to have regard for one, cherish, pay attention to, to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive (BLB)
We are to no longer have regard for, understand or perceive each other from our own points of view. We DO NOT have the right to our opinions about each other. As Followers of Christ, we only have the right to God’s point of view with regard to others. This has been life changing for me. It touches everything I allow myself to receive from others, and it touches all the thoughts I have about others.
I tell you all this to encourage us to be careful with each other’s understories. Be careful as you walk in and around the lives of others. We do not know the depth of their suffering or struggle, even as we don’t really know the depth of our own sometimes.
The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy…Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief. (Proverbs 14:10 &13)
As we rub shoulders with one another in the Church and in the world, be gentle, like Jesus. His mercies are new every morning, are ours?