Posts Tagged ‘life to the full’

i'm talkin' 'bout the man in the mirror

Two men lying under a tree. The first turns to the second and says to him, “I’ve often wanted to ask God why He doesn’t do more about the violence in the world, about people suffering from AIDS, about the homeless situation and the fact that so many women are still abused and oppressed and struggle to find a voice. I’ve wanted to ask God why He doesn’t do more about the racism that is still prevalent in so many areas around us or about the hatred often shown towards people who are “not like us”, why He doesn’t step into situations of war and poverty and malnutrition and do something.”

His friend thought about it for a few moments and then looked back and asked, “So why don’t you.”

The first guy replied, “I’m afraid He’s going to ask me the same question.”

[For next Thursday’s Definitive Guide to insulting the Creator of the Universe, click here]

[For last Thursday’s When You’re Weary, click here]

… for they shall inherit their lives back.

Sometimes people can be mean. They can be jerks. Sometimes we probably deserve it. Other times it might come as a complete blind side and have nothing to do with us. But at some point in life, especially if you are living a Jesus-following life [or trying to], someone is going to hurt you, a lot, and you need to figure out how best you can and should respond.

Jack Handey may have put it like this, “Before you take revenge on someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way you’ll be a mile away, and you’ll have their shoes.” [big paraphrase from his ‘criticize’ version]

Stephan Pastis, through his amazing comic strip, Pearls before Swine, captures it this way:

pearls revenge

Which is Truth number one, which I have also heard put this way – ‘Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping that the other person will die.’

Jesus deals with it in the prayer He teaches His disciples by introducing the phrase, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.’ The link there is very intentional and implies that you can’t have one without the other. But, knowing how slow we are, He almost sneaks this one in right at the end of the prayer, just to make sure we got it: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” [Matthew 6.14-15]

He echoes it again big time in the parable of the unmerciful servant, found in Matthew 18. From a place of realisation of all that you have been forgiven by God, the natural reaction should by you extending forgiveness, mercy and grace to those around you. But it is also something He commands us to do with the proviso that if we are unable to, then we surely will not receive forgiveness from God.

Which brings us to a second important Truth:

true story

If we truly love God and our neighbor [another great command Jesus demonstrated so well in His life, and also in His death as He gasped out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” while literally dying on the cross for those who had put Him there [Luke 23.34]], then forgiving them should be a natural desire for their sake, but the reality is that forgiving someone else frees us from bitterness, deep anger and hatred which threatens to eat us up. I strongly believe that if you live with any measure of unforgiveness in your life, that it will affect every single other relationship you are in. You cannot experience or offer true Love unless you are willing to come to a place of forgiveness towards those who have wronged you. [with the knowledge that forgiving them doesn’t mean what they did was not wrong or hurtful to you].

Which brings us to this absolute Truth:

so much of Truth

If you have been deeply hurt by someone then everything in you may be wanting to revolt against that statement. But it is true. People can encourage towards anger. People can provide context for offence.

But each one of us decides whether we take it on or not. overcome! And remember the word in the Bible was not about anger being wrong, but rather it says, ‘in your anger do not sin,’ [Ephesians 4.26] which feels a whole lot more doable.

On the plus side, there is the assurance that God will not let the wrong go unpunished. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” [Romans 12.20]

I know, I know, I too have wanted to suggest that perhaps that wasn’t necessarily meant as a metaphor in ‘this particular case’ but sadly the Greek holds up. But God has this. Don’t waste time, energy or health and don’t damage your other relationships in life by holding on to something that, like with pig at the top, may not even be affecting the other person even in the slightest. Extend forgiveness. Choose life to the full.

[for next Thursday’s The Bible according to me, and maybe you? click here]

[to see last Thursdays ‘A Most Powerful Message’ click here]

Friday = My Day – absolutely anything goes on this day as i will share something that is on my mind in any shape, way or form:

Being Good Friday i think it’s good for this to have an Easter theme. so i will share another one of those ‘Coffee with Jesus’ cartoons I’ve recently discovered:

Coffee with Jesus: a hand in it

I remember watching Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ for Easter one Sunday at the Vineyard church I was pastoring which my friend Mark Baker had strongly encouraged us to do. It is not a nice movie to watch because it is so incredibly violent. But it is a great movie to watch because it is so incredibly violent. It comes closest to giving us an idea of what this weekend was all about.

I think it is so easy to become so comfortable with the cross. We wear it as a symbol. We speak about it or point to it. But generally with a deep “Aaaaah. Look at that. Thank-you Jesus!” kind of emotion which completely forgets the real physical pain and exhaustion and suffering and absolute brokenness Jesus went through for us. And as the cartoon points out, to some extent also because of us.

But maybe we need to be reminded of a Mel Gibson ‘Passion of the Christ’ type of crucifixion when we start dealing with the concept of forgiveness and the people in our lives that we need to forgive. Because without the violent depiction of what the crucifixion really looked like, Jesus line of “Father forgive them” can seem like quite an easy one for Him to throw out [He was God’s Son after all] but when we catch a glimpse of everything He went through – not only the physical breaking of His body, but the humiliation, the abandonment of the crowds and for a short time all of His friends who He had walked the last three years with, the betrayal by Judas, the denials of Peter and lastly, the turning away of God the Father’s face as He hung on that cross covered with all of our sin, then we can start to realise the full extent of that statement.

That is the Jesus who screamed out forgiveness with one of His last breaths from the cross. That is the same Jesus who calls us to forgive anyone and everyone who has hurt us in any way. It is not an unreasonable ask coming from Him. And He promises that through His Holy Spirit He will give us the strength to do what may seem impossible or unimaginable.

The Truth is that extending forgiveness to others sets us free. From anger and bitterness and jealousy and hate which all end up eating us slowly from the inside out. To hold on to unforgiveness is to invite a slow death.

Is there anyone you are needing to forgive today? [might be someone from ten, twenty years ago] I strongly encourage you to do so, and at the foot of the cross [with the One who understands, and gets it] is a great place to speak and work that out.

[for next Friday’s A Nose for a Horn, click here]