I love a good story, especially one where God chooses to use losers and idiots (like you and me).
A few years ago, I had coffee with a middle-aged man in our church. Mark was gifted and full of potential. However, I noticed that he’d stayed in the shadows and refused to get involved. When I asked him why, he replied, “Oh, I wish I could serve, but I’m divorced.”
I was flabbergasted. “Who told you divorced means disqualified?”
He took the next twenty or so minutes to tell me his story. He and his first wife married young. Neither one of them was a Christ-follower. They both came from broken and dysfunctional homes deeply bound by sexual sins. During the course of their ten-year marriage, both of them had multiple affairs. The fact that their marriage had survived as long as it did surprised everybody who knew them. Eventually, they “fell out of love” (I hate that phrase) and went their separate ways.
A few years later, after another failed marriage and two DUIs, Mark hit bottom and ended up in AA. His sponsor was the first person to ever tell Mark about Jesus. Eventually, he became a devout follower of Christ, and within another year or so he married a godly woman who loved Jesus with all her heart.
He was Lutheran. She was active in the Church of Christ. Neither one of them felt comfortable in the other’s denomination, so they decided to start fresh at a new church in their neighborhood. After just a few months, they were told, “You are welcome to attend our church, but you can’t serve here since you are living in sin.”
With tears in his eyes, Mark said to me, “We had no idea that God saw our new marriage as a mistake, but we couldn’t divorce each other. If that means we can’t serve God, so be it.”
I went from being flabbergasted to being pissed! How could anyone tell this man he was disqualified because of sin that had happened before he was even a Christ-follower? I grabbed my Bible and went pastoral on him. With a passion that surprised him, I assured this brother that he did not need to live as a second-class Christian.
Maybe you’ve read this verse: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Or perhaps you’re familiar with Paul’s words to Titus, “God saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”
I looked Mark in the eye and said, “Buddy, everything that happened BC (before Christ) is gone! New birth and new life mean a new start, and we are never disqualified by what we did before we surrendered our lives to Jesus! In fact, the blood of Jesus covers all our sin, including the ones we committed after becoming a Christian. If we’ve confessed it and repented of it, no past sin can rob us of our destiny or disqualify us from service in God’s kingdom!”
It was his turn to be dumbstruck. It was as if the heavens parted and he heard the voice of God saying, “You are my beloved son, and I am well pleased with you.”
Is divorce a sin? Often it is, but it’s not the unpardonable sin. Why do we so easily doubt the goodness of God? Why do we listen to the gloomy voices of the self-righteous or the dark voice of the accuser? Why are we so quick to disqualify ourselves because of failure?
Here’s a crazy idea: Let’s stop making excuses, walk in forgiveness, and not let our regrets become a reason to opt out of living an epic life in Christ.
There’s something I need you to embrace and remember: Our past shapes us, but it doesn’t have to control us. Our history influences our future, but it shouldn’t imprison us. In Christ, we are more than the sum of our past mistakes.
Bottom line—God is bigger than your past and greater than your sins.
Like what you’ve read here today?
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 A paraphrase of the biblical book of Jeremiah, chapter one.
 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT
 Titus 3:5, NLT
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