Condemnation


Condemned buildings have always fascinated me. I don’t go walking around inside them but I like to look at them and wonder what they used to be like. When I see them now, they look worn out and rundown, but they weren’t always that way. Once they were new.

This will sound kine of random, but my drive into work is a pleasant one. I enjoy driving so the distance doesn’t bother me. The only time I run into trouble is if I don’t get out the door by 7:00 am. By 7:30 or so, the “traffic” in Wichita can get a little unpleasant. I hesitate on the word traffic because Wichita really doesn’t have traffic — not truly. If you’ve ever done any driving in a big city, you would understand. But if Wichita has traffic problems, it has them at 7:30 am and 5:00 pm. At 7:30 am, the worst of it is where 235 branches off into 135 and 254 (I think it’s 254; I rarely go that way so I don’t remember). It’s a terrible bottleneck, and if you’re not paying attention you’ll run right up the tailpipe in front of you.

So sometimes, if it looks like that particular junction is backing up worse than normal, I take a detour. I jump off on Broadway. If it were at night time, I don’t think I’d go this way. But at 7:30 in the morning, most of the dangerous types are sleeping. And Broadway runs right past my building so it makes sense to use it as an alternate route. 

The Broadway stretch is fascinating to me, though, because on one side of the street are diners, worn-down clubs, taverns, bars, sleezy motels, and other establishments like that. On the other side are the railroad tracks, and beyond the railroad tracks are buildings. Large industrial buildings. And if they aren’t condemned, they probably should be.

There’s this one particularly large building that my imagination runs away with whenever I look at it. I can imagine what it looks like inside. It’s probably completely wrong, but it’s interesting to think about. And I wonder what it used to be. I wonder what its purpose was. Did a lot of people work there? Why is it abandoned? What happened to the company that used to make it its home? Was the building not up to code and that’s why it had to be abandoned? Did the company go belly up? If that’s the case, why didn’t someone else move in?

I don’t know what happened to that building to make it uninhabitable, but I know that something had to give way. Whether it was the company leaving or the taxes being to high to maintain whatever business operated there — maybe the building was filled with asbestos or maybe there was a catastrophic fire — there’s no one in it now. There’s no life in that building any more, and because there’s no one there maintaining it, it has fallen into disrepair, and with the normal passage of time, it eventually reached the point where it’s too dangerous to let people walk around inside it. It’s condemned.

This is totally random, but I guess this is just the way my mind works. I thought about this giant old condemned building when I read the verse today.

Romans 8:1-2

 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power[a] of the life-giving Spirit has freed you[b] from the power of sin that leads to death.

People can be condemned too. People can be so rundown and worn out by sin that they are dangerous to be around. We’re born condemned. When we’re old enough to understand right from wrong, we automatically choose wrong; it’s how we’re wired. And like a building that’s fallen into disrepair, our lives start crumbling from the first moment we cross the line and disobey God’s laws. And by the time we reach adulthood–maybe sooner in all honesty–it has probably become apparent that no repair we are capable of is able to fix the real problem.

But someone who has given their life to Christ will never reach the point where they are useless, where they are too worn down to be used. Christ restores that which is broken. He renews what fell apart years ago. And not only is He capable of rejuvenating a life that is condemned, He is able to help us maintain it so that it never breaks down again.

There’s no condemnation in Christ.

He doesn’t look at us and tell us that we don’t meet His expectations or that we’re not up to His standards. Of course, we’re not. That’s the point.

Without Him, we are condemned. Period. We don’t have the strength or the power to maintain our lives without Him. Well . . . maybe we can exist without Him, but eventually that kind of life will fall apart like a building that is left to the ravages of time. With Him, our lives will never fall apart. There may be times when it feels like it does, when it feels like the entire world is crumbling to pieces, but on those days we have to set aside what we feel and rely on what we know.

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