Think of the worst thing you have ever done.
Take your time, and wade through those repressed memories. I can wait.
Do you have it in your mind? Good. Now, think of the second worst thing you’ve ever done. Same as before. Hold these two memories there, and go to the third worst thing you’ve ever done. Continue until you can no longer remember which memories are which or you’ve run out of “worst” things.
I have no idea what yours are. They could range from an abortion or a murder to sexual deviancy to stealing and violence. It could be something as juvenile as pulling a prank on the weird kid in high school that destroyed him/her on the inside or murdering another human being over money or emotion. Whatever your list consists of, I want you to have it before you for the time being. And no, this isn’t just to remind you of all the crap you’ve done.
Maybe the stuff you’ve done makes you feel disqualified. Unworthy of a “normal” life, condemned to never be all you could be. Maybe an extra-marital affair makes you feel disqualified from being a father or mother. Maybe an abortion makes you feel unworthy of a family. Maybe a life of petty crime makes you feel disqualified from making an honest living. Maybe that accident that killed that kid makes you unworthy of redemption or forgiveness. Or maybe the way you bullied that kid in high school makes you disqualified to parent your own children. Whatever it may be, everyone feels disqualified of the best life can offer, and quite frankly, you may be disqualified in some areas of life.
Let me introduce you to someone who will make you at your worst seem like a choir boy. His name was Manasseh, and his story is told in the annals of history, dutifully recorded in the Bible. Manasseh was…well, awful. He was the worst king in the history of the kings of Judah. Don’t believe me? Read 2 Kings 21:2-9,
“He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” 5 For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger. 7 Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the Lord said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever. 8 And I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them.” 9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.”
Also, in 2 Kings 21:16,
“Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord. ”
Here’s the list, in plain language:
- Built altars to false gods
- Worshipped the sun, moon, and stars
- Built altars in God’s Temple
- Burned his children alive as sacrifice
- Practiced witchcraft/divination
- Consulted mediums and spiritists
- Slaughtered so many of his own people that the streets of his city, from one end to the other, ran with their blood
Sound like a good guy? Here’s what happened because of how awful a king he was, as recorded in Jeremiah 15,
“3 I will appoint over them four kinds of doom,” declares the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag off, and the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. 4 I will make them an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.”
He did so much evil that he actually damned his entire nation to destruction. But here’s the kicker, as we read in 2 Chronicles 33:10-13,
“10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 Therefore the Lord brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon. 12 When he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”
Manasseh, for all the evil he did and the destruction he brought on his own nation, for all his monstrous and flagrant failures, was forgiven and reconciled to God. How? By humbling himself and admitting that the only way he would be saved was through the Lord. Were there consequence for his previous sins? Yes. Judah became a vassal state and was still under damnation for his previous acts. Those consequences for his sin never went away. However, what happened was he was forgiven those sins by the Lord.
Remember that list earlier of all the bad stuff you’ve done? How do you stack up? Manasseh’s got you beat by a fair amount, huh?
Well, you see, regardless of if you are a king who has killed his own people or a teenager that trashes people online or a young woman that talks about her friends behind their backs, the fact of the matter is that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23). That sin separates us from God. But God has given a way to restore that relationship, and it is through Christ’s work on the cross (John 3:16). Jesus Christ, the perfect man, died on a cross in your place, paying your price, was buried and rose again the third day, back to life. If you put your trust in the fact that He died for your sins and rose from the grave, you will be saved, and have that relationship restored with God, and at death you will be with Him forever in heaven.
The best part of the gospel? No one is disqualified. Your “worst thing” only proves that you need Him more than ever. And the invitation is for everyone, even those as bad (or worse) than King Manasseh. What is stopping you from making that choice today? Believe me, you won’t be disqualified.