Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13
It’s good to remember, even if what we are remembering is itself not good. It’s good to keep in mind where we’ve come from and what we’ve been saved from. It’s good to have this kind of perspective. Remembering that God has given us all we have and made us all we are. Remembering that when left to ourselves we were without hope and without God.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10
Remembering what we once were (and were not) makes being who we are now all the more sweet. It’s harder to rail against the church with all its foibles (and there certainly are a lot we could get distracted with!) when we remember that we now belong to a people when once we were alone. When we remember that this church is God’s royal priesthood and holy nation and that we are inseparable from them—we are them! It’s also harder to be malcontented with the day’s little bumps and struggles when we are remembering that we were once separated from Christ and in utter darkness, but now we walk in his marvelous light.
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. Deuteronomy 15:15
It’s remarkable the way the book of Deuteronomy is filled with calls to remember. At least four times the call is a distinct call to “remember when you were slaves.” There are also a multitude of calls to remember sins committed and God’s faithfulness, but God goes out of his way to have Moses call the people to the specific memory of slavery. He does this repeatedly. How better to produce thankfulness and gratitude for our rescue than to remember what we once were?
But what if I came to Christ as a young child? Doesn’t that make these memories less sweet? Doesn’t it mean less because I had less time and freedom to allow my sinful nature full access to all its corruptive potential?
Consider again the Israelites who were commanded to remember they were slaves. Do you think it meant less to those who were children when they left Egypt simply because they had not yet had the opportunity to bear the full brunt and punishment of their slavery? Was the present less sweet? Were they less enslaved in Egypt than their parents? Certainly not. If anything, they should have greater thankfulness from the realization that God brought them out so soon; so quickly before they were subjugated to their slavery as adults. Just because they were children didn’t make them less enslaved. The same can be said of those of us who came to Christ as young children. We were not less enslaved, less sinful, less corrupted and hopeless. We were on the same trajectory as all human beings, and God saw fit to rescue us.
Remember that you were spearated from Christ, but now you who once were far off have been brought near by his blood. This is the most beautiful of memories.