The Broken Window

broken window

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23

Have you ever broken a window, a mirror, or just a sheet of glass? Thankfully, throughout my life, I have had only a handful of instances where glass in some form was broken (bottles excluded). While I’ve never had a ball, rock, or similar object break a window, I have had glass in pictures and mirrors break, as well as glass in a window that cracked when the window was slammed hard. When I was in college working in maintenance, one of my jobs was to replace the broken glass in windows. These were the older sash windows with muntins separating individual panes. It was tedious work, which eventually gave me a real appreciation for glaziers, and the newer gridded windows with plastic grids overlaid on, or imbedded between, the layers of insulated glass.

When I was repairing windows, the main problem often wasn’t glass totally broken or falling to pieces, but was rather just a small crack in a corner. Many would think, “Why bother replacing it? It is just a small crack in the corner.” This was often true, and, in some cases, a crack might not become a problem. But in other cases, the crack could spread through the whole window, making it extremely unsafe or even unusable. Abrupt temperature changes can cause many cracks (especially in vehicle glass) which seem innocuous. But later, especially in winter, they can spread all the way across the window. Even a small crack could allow water to leak in during a strong storm and could even, over time, cause the wood frame of the window to rot.

small cracked windowBy now, you may think that I couldn’t think of anything but windows and glass to write about! Well, I want to use these broken window examples to point out that sin in our lives is like a cracked or broken window or mirror. Just as we each have different levels of what we consider to be right, we each have different levels of what we consider to be wrong:

  • For many, murder, large-scale theft (like robbing a bank or stealing an expensive car), using illegal drugs, breaking into a corporation’s or government’s computer system, or blowing up a building are considered “big wrongs or sins,” and everything else is on a lesser scale of wrongdoing.
  • To others, lying, cheating, rape, and adultery are at the top of their list of wrongdoings.
  • Some feel abusing or killing animals, destroying forestland, using methods that alter our climate, or polluting the waterways of the world are major wrongdoings.
  • Another group would consider common vices, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, premarital sex, gambling, and watching (or creating) pornography as very high on their list of evil acts.

One might consider murder to be like the smashed window and a lie as just a small crack. Another may treat gambling as a huge crack in a mirror and an occasional extramarital affair as just a little crack that is hardly noticeable (except when the “heat is on” and it keeps on growing to become a major (and very visible) fracture).

Throughout history, we have determined what we feel is wrong by many, many different standards and benchmarks.

Some may be very good standards; other standards may be almost no standards at all. What might be just a small fracture in a mirror today could be a disastrous monstrosity tomorrow, next year, or in a century. To a junkyard operator, broken glass that punctured a framed piece of artwork means nothing, but an art collector would consider it a horrible, major crime. As long as our view of what is right and wrong is mixed-up or evolving, our life on this planet will never be stable.

But God does not see sin as we do; He never has, and never will, either. Whether the window or glass is just cracked, or is fractured in many places, if it has just a miniscule crack in a corner, or even a large split on one side, it is still broken. If we tell a little lie to a friend in passing, or just look at a person of the opposite sex with lust in our heart, or viciously murder crowds of people, or go ahead in impatience and do God’s work ahead of Him, we have still sinned. Sin is still sin, no matter what the magnitude of it may be. God cannot tolerate any sin in His presence.

If God doesn’t tolerate any sin, how can we ever come before Him? Do we have to make ourselves right or clean ourselves up first? Are we to go before a person of spiritual authority and confess our sins or wrongs?

If we do enough right things, won’t that counter all of our wrongdoings? Even though we haven’t eliminated all of our sins, if we try hard enough and show God that we are doing the best we can in the situation we are in, won’t that be enough?

The quick answer to most of these questions is, no, no, and no. Isn’t there some way that all of these sins could be covered up or even eliminated? Now you’re starting to look in the right direction! God knew that we could not meet the standards He has set through His written word, the Bible. He intentionally made everything this way, in order to bring us to the point where we can see that we can’t make it without Him. If it weren’t for our pride, in all of its forms, we most likely would yield and let Him fully reign in our lives.

The good news is that God did make a way for all of these sins in our hearts to be eliminated. That way is through His Son, Jesus Christ. He fulfilled all of the requirements of the law God had laid out prior to His birth. In the past, only certain animals could be sacrificed, but they were not enough.

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4).

They were only a temporary covering. But Jesus was perfect and without sin, and therefore qualified to be the perfect, final sacrifice. As a result, the shed blood of His sacrifice has totally covered our sins, a permanent covering. All we have to do is believe in faith that His death, His sacrifice—the blood He shed on the cross—covers our sins, and, as a result, we are cleansed—made white as snow! Now the ‘cracks in our window’ are gone at last! Do you want to continue living with these cracks in your life? Suppose the cracks spread until the glass is totally broken and falls out—then what? Don’t let another moment pass by without allowing Jesus to work in your life—give yourself to Jesus and see those cracks disappear for good!

–James Pangburn

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