Reflections on Romans, Week 2
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”Romans 8:1
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Whenever I come across this verse, my first reaction is always a heartfelt, “Praise God!” I am very aware that I deserve all manner of condemnation. Even at my best, if it weren’t for Jesus, God would see only my worst. This verse also brings to mind all the times I haven’t been the teacher that I should have been. I think of the times that I raised my voice inappropriately at a student or spoke with harshness instead of kindness to a vulnerable child. Those moments haunt me. I know I should have done better. My classroom sins accuse and condemn me even years later. Sounds a little like Martin Luther and his self-flagellation as a young man. Perhaps I get a little carried away sometimes.
But this verse says there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Hey, that’s me! I’m in Christ Jesus! And so are my students and my co-workers and my children and my family. I don’t have to dwell in those reasons that I deserve condemnation. I don’t have to live in that dark place. I am a child of the light, Jesus, our Savior. Yes, I’ve made mistakes in my teaching and in my parenting and in my life, but I am free from them. I can learn from them and pray that the Holy Spirit helps me to keep from repeating them, but those sins don’t have to condemn me.
Memories of past sins sometimes still gnaw at me. It’s hard to let it go, even though I know I am not condemned because of Jesus. I’m not very good at applying those oh-so-familiar song lyrics, “Let it go . . .” I want to hold on to my sins and the sins of those around me. I want to condemn others for their sins and make them feel as badly as I do. Then I come across this verse. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s me! Let it go. Dump those memories of old transgressions. Let it go.
Do you ever forget that this verse applies to your students? Sometimes we might think, “They should know better. We’ve gone over that rule so many times. How many times, oh Lord?” And then this verse pops up. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t say there are no consequences in your classroom management system. It does say that we who are in Christ Jesus live a life of grace and forgiveness. Just as we don’t need to carry around our old sins, we don’t need to carry around their old sins either. Let it go.
We should be condemned for our sins and yet we are not—not based on our own merit but because we are in Christ Jesus. We could wield a heavy hand of judgment on our students, yet we have the opportunity to show them daily what it means to be in Christ Jesus. Our classrooms are not prisons of condemnation, but places of grace and light. What a joy to live and teach, unshackled and free in Christ Jesus!
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