Guest Column: Cleaning up our mess

July 1, 1993

Guest Column: Cleaning up our mess

By Dr. Robert R. Kopp

Hear the good news! Jesus entered the world to save sinners. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Jesus, and Jesus died for us, rose for us, reigns for us, and prays for us.

If a person is in Jesus, she or he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone; everything becoming fresh and new. By trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are forgiven! We live confidently! We live forever!

That’s what we always say after admitting what we always do that contradicts God’s will as profiled in Jesus and prescribed in the Bible.

Paul put it this way, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me…Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (see Romans 7, 8). Everybody has that apocalyptic moment when the apostle’s conclusion becomes personal: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It happened for me during lunch when I was a fifth grader in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Street School. We had lunch in homeroom back then. I sat and observed how everybody in the room was messed up.

Mr. Moore sat behind his desk, took out his false teeth, and began to gum graham crackers to death. Marilyn who was in her third year of fifth grade started stroking my back without protest from me.

Donna was making eyes at me from the other side of the room and waving a small brown paper bag filled with penny candy which she used so regularly to seduce me into the cloakroom for quick kisses in exchange for red hot dollars, sugar straws, pretzel rods, and chocolate licorice.

I spotted another puddle under Melvin’s desk. Tommy was pinching Deborah’s behind; and she didn’t protest either. And I thought to myself, “Everybody in here is so messed up.” Then it hit me! “If everybody in here is messed up,” I deduced, “then I must be messed up too.”

It was an apocalyptic moment. Ever since that day, the voice of Jesus whispers into my ear at judgmental inclinations, “What’s that I see in your eye?” (see Matthew 7:1-5).

Ever since that day, I’ve realized what our assurances of pardon after prayers of confession are all about.

Jesus cleans up our messes.

Dr. Robert Kopp is the pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Loves Park.

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