We think, "Hey, I'm not so bad. There are much worse people than me. I might be rough around the edges, but frankly, I've come a long way."
We just don't care. We don't.
In recent news, a former skinhead named Bryon Widner has turned his life around. The evidences of his former sins of racism, however, were plastered all over his body in tattoos that clearly indicate his past. His sins are externally visible and he hated it. He would do anything to get rid of them and forgo his former lifestyle. His face, covered in tattoos with racist hate, was his greatest challenge and evidence of who he used to be. He wanted the tattoos gone. He was no longer that man. He even went as far as to consider taking acid and burning his face to beyond recognition to get rid of them. He would do anything.
Well, fortunately he didn't have to burn them off with acid. A kind donor offered to pay the $35,000 repeated tattoo removal surgeries. Bryon underwent 25 extremely painful laser surgeries over a period of 16 months to completely rid himself of his past which haunted his face everywhere he went. The procedures became so painful with burning, blistering, and severe swelling that Bryon had to be put under general anesthetic rather than being kept awake.
Ultimately, Bryon's surgeons successfully removed all the tattoos on his face and neck, leaving his face clean and without evidence of his former life. Though the rest of his body remains covered in ink, Bryon is slowly covering up his other racist tattoos as he is able.
Even though not all of us have been Neo-Nazi racists covered in tattoos that prove it, we all have much to learn from Bryon, and here are my 4 observations:
1. We all have unique histories, steeped in sin. Our sinful baggage used to cover us, and though probably not in facial-tattoo form, they were just as offensive, always before us.
2. Just like Bryon's tattoos, our sins were not just visible but actually defined who we were.
3. Once we are saved by God, we are to hate our former selves. Like Bryon, we should be willing to go to any extent in order to rid ourselves of who we used to be before becoming Christians.
4. Ridding ourselves of sin takes time, and it hurts. But the end result is worth it, not only for ourselves but for everyone around us.
I'll leave you with a challenge. Face your sin. Own it. And do everything you can to burn it out of you. Realize the pain it will cause but also the purity that cleansing yourself brings.
Question: How has your struggle with sin forced you to make tough choices that lead to healing?
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