I used to be. As years advance we get used to that phrase. Even in my mid-thirties this phrase has crossed my lips and been on my mind. I used to be stronger. I used to be faster. I used to be thinner. I used to be quicker. I used to be more sincere. I used to be more trusting. I used to be.
The tendency is to look back on life and see how we have degraded. We all look back at that ‘golden age’ when we had it all going on. Whether it was how we dealt with relationships or how we were physically, we like to look back on when things were better. We long for the past. We long for simpler times. We long for the whitewashed memories to be a present reality.
Maybe this tendency is ingrained into the human race because we all have the same starting point. Human history did start in a place and time and condition that was perfect. It was what humans were made for and there we were complete and satisfied, things that are no more, but yet we long for them. We long and yearn for that past perfect time. Too often we don’t know that is what we are longing for, so instead of that time we set our sights on the low hanging fruit of what we might think was a better time, but is still an imperfect time.
But we can’t go back. We can’t go back to that perfect time as a human race and we can’t go back to what we think is a better time for us personally. We can’t go back for we are meant to go forward. Instead of looking back on our life and longing for what has gone, maybe we should look back and rejoice in what has been crucified with Christ.
Instead of thinking I used to be fitter, try I used to be a liar. Or I used to be addicted to pornography. Or I used to be filled with hate. Or I used to be selfish. Or I used to be a thief. Or I used to be angry. Or I used to… and fill in the blank with who you used to be before you knew Christ or even who you were when you were less mature in Christ. That changes the perspective a bit, doesn’t it?
We see this beautiful shift in perspective in 1 Corinthians 6:11 when Paul says “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” After making that dreadful list of sins that we are all too familiar with, Paul then shifts the perspective. He reminds the readers that we have things we “used to be.” And that is precisely the point and power of the gospel.
We used to be many things. Evil things. Shameful thing. Wrong things. Embarrassing things. Sinful things. But the gospel changes us. Paul says we were washed, sanctified, and justified. Jesus did this, the Spirit applied it to us, God declared it so, and that is who and what we are now.
When we start looking back, let’s have the right perspective and remember what God has delivered us from. Rejoice in it, celebrate the change, and then let’s look to where God is taking us… home.