It is not unusual to read a book/magazine, watch a TV show, or hear someone speak of a “hardened” criminal. That description is used to describe someone who is jaded, desensitized, and/or usually practiced in criminal activity. While looking for a definition for “hardened criminal” I came across an article on a 13 year old who is being branded as one. All I can say is “Ay-yi-yi!” (spelling dubious). :) Hardened criminals are often seen as incorrigible. Unreachable. Unchangeable. ‘Course I am of the belief that no one is until they breathe their last breath.
That, in part, is why we are drawn to the thief on the cross. We like the idea that he was near the end of his (miserable) life and one word from Jesus changed everything. Let’s face it: unless you are really, really, really (did I say really) unique, we have all done things we would just as soon forget. It was a big thing among bloggers a couple of years ago to write letters to their younger self. Australian blogger, Rodney Olsen, took a unique approach this past week to that. I followed suit in my comment with a much shorter one. “If I had to do it all over again…” can easily become the moniker of many of us. There are many things I would do differently that’s for sure. But one thing I do know is this;
GOD’S GRACE IS SO MUCH GREATER THAN MY SIN!!
And man am I glad! That doesn’t give me a license to sin. This Scripture says so. I am one of the blessed ones-I came to know Jesus early. But what about those whose whole life has been about lying, cheating, stealing, murder, war, mockery, and various other “qualities?” Take, for example, the two characters I will be dealing with this Sunday in my series “Reclaimed.”
Both hardened, but in different ways. One hardened by his evil life; the other hardened by his military life. One by his sinful choices; the other by his life choice. The centurion may have been a more honorable man than the thief, but they both needed the Savior. They both realized they were in the presence of majesty. One found peace and promise at death; the other found truth at death (Someone else’s).
What matters is not how hardened someone’s life is at death. What truly matters is how hardened someone’s heart is at death. I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, it is never too late for salvation…except when that last breath is breathed. Thief on the cross. Roman centurion. Bill. No matter. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Just don’t come with a hardened heart.
I’d appreciate your prayers for Sunday. Have any thoughts you would like to share on this topic?
Thanks to Dan for the banner.