On September 1, we celebrated one year of The Tavern with a gathering at Tuscaloosa’s historic Old Tavern. It was a great opportunity to talk about history. We all have one. Our history explains who we are. It defines us. And it often explains where we are. But it doesn’t have to define our today, our here-and-now, this moment. And, it certainly doesn’t prescribe our future or who we are going to be or where we are going.
Everyone has something in their past which is inconsistent with their present or their future. If we study historic figures, we always find something from their past which strike us as ironic or catch us by surprise. History is unavoidable. And so are mistakes. But they have one thing in common – they happened in the past. William Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” But there is an exception.
Our past does not define our relationship with God. Unlike us, God can do more than overlook our past. With God, it can be non-existent, erased, discarded, as if it never happened. Jesus allows us to be made new in God’s eyes. No matter our past thoughts, acts, and omissions, it is as though they never happened. It’s all made possible through Jesus.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NIV)
Our newness also frees us to make our future, to shake off the dust and baggage of our past and define who we are and who we want to be. It allows us to not only experience this relationship as Christ instructed – love God with all your heart, mind and soul – but to also share our renewed relationship with others according to Christ’s other principle instruction -- love your neighbor as yourself.
We can do all of this right now. This moment. Today. Each and every day. But we will continue to make mistakes despite our best intentions. Thankfully, it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime do-over. We get repeated mulligans through the ever-present love and grace of Jesus Christ. That’s an age-old truth that never gets old.