Everybody you see walking down the street is carrying something, even people who aren't. They are carrying everything they ever did to their parents, siblings, spouses, children, and other assorted human beings. They are used to the weight, more or less, and some are even "managing" so well you would think they have no problem. But in one way or another it will come out.
The Christian who lays hold of the cross has that burden roll off his shoulders. Some of them feel great immediately and their joy is evident and lasts a lifetime. Others seem to take back their burden, or feel a kind of phantom weight for a burden that is no longer there.
There are many benefits in Christ. The Apostle Paul alludes to it when he says God "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3). But today I want to talk about forgiveness. Serial killer Ted Bundy believed in his forgiveness before his execution. Serial killer David Berkowitz believes in his forgiveness, and has evident joy and peace in mentoring men in the penitentiary.
My husband, who also has a lot to be forgiven, has serene assurance of forgiveness and an enviable peace. He has picked up on the fact that I keep picking up my burden and trying to carry it around. He says I think my sins are bigger than Christ's death, and that's not right. I didn't think it showed.
What I have come to realize is that when we are shaky on the idea that we are forgiven, we have absolutely nothing to offer anyone. Nothing.
This is because the main problem of man is not poverty or war or sickness or suffering. The biggest burden on people's back is their guilt, and at some level they are all being eaten alive by it. If you, therefore, walk around doing good deeds, teaching Sunday school, picketing abortion clinics, and frequenting retreats, but you do not feel forgiven (and people will sniff it on you like a shark sniffs out a drop of blood in a pool), you are missing the number one thing that will draw people to Christ. Believe you are forgiven and you will have everything to give.
"Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed …" (Acts 13:38-39).