Forgiveness: The Gospel Message in One Word

At times, I have hard time reconciling the two thoughts of church being in a human-manufactured building. Along with this struggle I find myself falling into the promotion of ‘being-in-a-building way of thinking’; contrasting it with the Church gathering anywhere that they, God’s people, choose to meet or dwell.  This view does away with most of the bureaucracy that comes with the former. Although there is truth in that very statement, but the whole truth be told disagreements arise in any and all places where fallible humans meet.

Then, I also have a HARD time with cowardice, hypocritical, passive aggressive individuals! I have heard it said that what we despise most in others, what we despise most about ourselves. Hmmmmm… am I any of these? (The question is worth asking) But, too, Jesus despised the Pharisees and He had none of the above in Him! So, what if at one time in my life I displayed any one these character flaws; should it not be all the easier for me to pour, lavishly, grace and mercy on others who are where I ‘used to be’? I think about the man who was forgiven much but was in turn unable to forgive just a little bit. And, how his master gave him an even harsher punishment because of his unwillingness to overlook his own servant’s debt. As you know, parables are earthly stories with heavenly meaning. So, I know that if I do not show forgiveness to others, as God has forgiven me, I will not be forgiven. Oh yeah, it’s in there.(Matthew 6:14)

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Oh that I would not be a shrewd manager! May I forever for be an emblem of Grace because that is What/Who Jesus is for me. May I always re-present the Jesus to all I encounter, even those who it is hard to love or befriend. May I present myself as a living sacrifice and die to my own way of handling people. May Christ be seen in me- that I may actually flesh-out His Gospel message. As I live, denying myself, and embracing my cross. May I choose to see beyond what my naked and blurry eyes can see. THIS HERE is REAL! And it gets NO MORE REAL than this!  THIS HERE IS THE WAY OF THE GOSPEL. May we take no offense, but be emptied out and filled with Christ that we may no longer live for us but truly LIVE for Jesus! How? By allowing Him to live in us! I was reminded, this week, of the story Corre ten Boom shared on her(by God’s grace) forgiving a guard who held her captive. This was written in her book,  I’m Sill Learning to Forgive here is a short expert. But I encourage you to read the full story of her forgiving the man who once was her enemy and now her brother in Christ, here.

“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’bigstock-Old-Couple-Holding-Hands-2041049

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then” (italics and bold, added)

How beautiful the end of this story, but as you read, how treacherous the journey. It’s AHmazing, as my friend Tami Romo would write, that when emptied of ourselves and set aside for the Lord’s use, the Lord can use us, literally, to speak and live out the message of the Cross to men and women. Can you even think of the affects and effects of the maligning of the Gospel that would have taken place if Corre did not forgive him. I dare not think of it! Let alone, live it out! No! May I NEVER!!!!

The Lord is so good to us! He is so loving and gracious us, to me! I love Him so much! This Jesus who changes lives of all people! Has changed mine! I am still being transformed as I learn of Him more and more! How great a God we serve! May my life, my conduct, my speech, my thoughts and my heart SHOW JESUS’ GOOD WORK! Lord have mercy!

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