I don’t like the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. You may recognize it as kind of filler between two holidays. Eating too many seasonal snacks and traditional treats can leave one longing for a few fruits or vegetables. I’ve even been known to use the time to get work done, while most colleagues and customers are out of the office. But, those weren’t my reasons for disliking that week.
The real reason is that, when I was younger, I used to be afraid that Jesus would return on the new year, and – despite the fact that I had accepted Him as my Savior – I was afraid that I wouldn’t be ready. I worried that I would have done something wrong, and miss my chance at Heaven.
You may chuckle a little at my ignorance. After all, no one knows when Jesus will return to earth (Matthew 24:36), and His sacrifice covers our sins completely once we turn our lives over to Him. But, somehow I had gotten this idea in my mind that it would happen at the New Year, and deceptive thoughts took over for a while.
However, over time, I found real confidence in the promises of God on this matter:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Romans 8:1-2 NASB
For those in Jesus, there is “no condemnation”. As in none; zero; empty set. While the Holy Spirit guides and convicts us of wrongdoing (so that we can do better), we are no longer condemned…at all. The ultimate penalty of our choices no longer looms over us. We may experience unfounded condemnation from others, or the corporeal penalty for sins that haven’t yet been expunged from our lives while we remain on earth. But, the sentence of death required by sin (see Romans 6:23) is no longer applicable to us. Jesus took care of that.
In return, we have no need to fear the wrath of God. Because Jesus bore the consequences of our sin, we don’t have to be afraid of impending punishment from God (once we’ve accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, and re-aligned ourselves with Him). God’s love took care of our reason for this fear.
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.
1 John 4:17-19 NASB
We may still be afraid of the consequences of our actions here on earth. As those who are still working to live up to the ideal for which we were created, that’s an ongoing process. Mistakes and poor choices (which we continue to make) may still lead to problems here on earth; however, our eternal destination is unrelated to our accomplishments on earth.
Even those who persecute those who do right are not to be feared. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 10:26-31.
So, if you have chosen to follow Jesus, you no longer need to worry about taking on any “bonus” punishment for your sins in eternity. Don’t be afraid that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t good enough. Embrace God’s love, accept His gift, and trust that He took care of things; then, live for Him without fear.
You can read more about my journey at My Testimony, but more importantly, I hope that you find the grace and peace that I did. (Let me – or a trusted pastor or other mature Christian – know if you have any questions about your own walk with Jesus.) And, if you celebrate both Christmas and New Year’s a week apart, may you enjoy this funny little week between the two holidays.