I am a Thief

Posted on 04.05.2012

The photo on the left sparked has remarkable significance for me personally, and has been a good reminder about God’s grace and how He saves us from our sin.

Last year, as we were preparing to shoot our music video, “More Than The Stars,” we were asked to do a photo shoot. One of the places chosen for the photo shoot was the church I was raised in: St. Paul C.M.E. Church in West Fresno. My late father was the pastor, followed by my late godfather. Another interesting fact about this location is that my Bible was put inside its cornerstone when I was around ten years old. Needless to say, this church is special to me. After we were all grown up, the church had three crosses placed in front of it, signifying the scene at Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified between two thieves.

Several weeks after the shoot, a dear friend of mine had come to visit me. During our visit, we came across the photo of me next to the crosses and discovered something amazing and unintended! As soon as my friend, Terry, saw it, she exclaimed, “You are the other thief!” There I was on the right, with the cross representing Jesus in the middle and the cross of the other thief on the left. For me, that photo captured the truth about me. I burst into tears. I sobbed at that poignant revelation.

I am a thief. I am a sinner. I can be a sinner who repents or I can mock Jesus, and be unrepentant, not recognizing what Jesus has done for me and for all humankind. Let us take a moment to look at the account of the crucifixion scene relayed to us in the New Testament in the book of Luke, chapter 23:

32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right , the other on his left. 34Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today  you will be with me in paradise.”

I accept Jesus as my Lord and King. I intentionally remind myself that I receive His gift of salvation and sacrifice in my place every day. I also remind myself that as I continue to struggle with my flesh, if I am not careful, I can be drawn into being the “left-sided thief” who failed to recognize his sin. Daily, I pray to not drive more nails into the hand of Christ by failing to walk in the Spirit, by being disobedient, by putting myself before others and by being prideful. Even while Christ hung on that cross, His love was so deep, wide, high and long that as He suffered in excruciating pain, He forgave and welcomed the thief on the right into His kingdom. Hallelujiah! What a Savior!

For the past few weeks, my loving Christ has been dealing with me. I have been contemplating how I can honor Christ’s sacrifice with my life. In particular, I am evaluating my tongue, which can be so subtle in its condemnation of others. I want to be cognizant of the precious blood of Christ—that it saved me and still is changing me daily and getting ahold of my tongue. I am reminded of the hymn that says “sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.” His crimson blood cleanses my sin and makes me a new creation—a thief, saved by grace.

This unintentional photo depicts my life’s posture so well: I pray to always stay “near the cross.” For, at the cross of Jesus Christ I find His grace to save, His victory to live forever beyond the grave and His power to walk in daily righteousness.