“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” – Jude 24-25
In less than a week you may see people walking around with a black smudge on their forehead. No, they didn’t forget to wash their face or just missed their shower. They have had ashes in the shape of a cross placed on their forehead signifying their sin and the antidote for it. And they want the world to know.
This is mostly a liturgical church practice, but I do not think non-liturgical church Christians need to avoid such a distinct display of the confession of Christ for one day a year. When the scriptures tell you what Jesus said that “those who confess me before men, I will confess before my Father in heaven,” this is just one means of confessing Christ and His death on a cross to all who see the mark of ashes on your forehead.
There are other ways to express such a testimony on all 365 days of a year. You must be both verbally and demonstrably clear in one way or another everyday that you are a Christ follower, that is a “Christian,” by declaring your personal sinfulness, along with your redemption through Christ’s atonement for you in His death in crucifixion. You must begin each day with the purpose to declare such publicly in one way or another.
You show repentance to others in your humility, your love for others, treating others better than yourself, and naturally speaking of Christ at every opportunity. Believe me this stands out in this world like a sore thumb.
Displaying the discipline of Christ-likeness takes courage; courage born of faith. It means you do not fear what your neighbor thinks more than what you know God thinks. You fear displeasing Him more than your fear of pleasing man’s desires. You can seek to be pleasing in how you live your life among men until such departs from pleasing God. You must keep your eyes fully on Jesus. To do this you constantly and consistently invest time in God’s word and time in prayer.
Keep this benediction of Jude in the front of your brain. Jesus is perfectly able to present you, a sinner, as blameless before God when you are truly anything but. There is not a greater benefit of your salvation in Him. God the Father never sees your sin at all when He sees you through the blood of His Son.
Your sin is buried in “the depths of the sea, and as far as the east is from the west.” It is unseeable! But this is only true when you are inextricably connected to Jesus by your personal, eternally committed choice to love Him beyond measure.
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free, rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me, is the current of thy love, leading onward, leading homeward, to thy glorious rest above.”
(1st verse of Samuel Trevor Francis’ hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” 1875)
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly devotional