OK, I treated this thing like it was a toy I got for Christmas, played with for a while, then threw to the back of the closet. Lame. But really, let me tell you what’s been going on. I started and deleted approximately 6 posts about Ferguson. I don’t remember a time before when my heart was so weary for humanity. I think it may have been the first time that I’ve looked at a news story and just thought, “there is no other answer than that people need Jesus.” And not in a snarky, Southern church-lady sort of way. But in a way that opens the eyes and the heart to what grace looks like. To what unconditional love looks like. To what absolute compassion and service with no strings attached looks like. Imagine a place where everyone intimately knows our Savior. Things become less about what has happened to me and how victimized I have been to how can I make myself less so that He can become more? How can I serve others so that they can see His face? How can I be His hands and feet and do what He commanded when He said to make disciples of all nations? People. Need. Jesus.
Then things got all weird and crazy busy the way life tends to do and all I wanted to do when I got home was get on my couch and eat things that were bad for me while I watched Sherlock from the beginning.
And that brings us up to now.
I’ve been dwelling a lot on what happens to the body of Christ when one of its members forever feels victimized. Jesus had a lot to say about being persecuted or treated poorly by other people (Matt. 5:12 & John 15:18 are just a couple of examples), and never once does He say that there will be some who will be exempt from persecution. So in the Church, in Christ’s body of ambassadors on this planet, it is immensely worse when we play the victim.
Instead, we should consider the character of Jesus. What did He do when church leaders accused Him and spoke terrible things about Him? What did He do when His friend betrayed Him into the hands of men? What did He do when a rabid crowd called for a murderer and rapist to be set free instead of Him? What did He do when He was beaten bloody and raw? When His body was broken? When He was fastened to a wooden cross to hang until He died? When He was mocked while hanging in torment? When He was stabbed? He looked at all of these transgressors…and He loved them with a love that is unfathomable. His heart broke for them as He watched the path that they were choosing to take. He died for them.
I have never been arrested or beaten or unjustly executed. But I have been wronged many times over the course of my life. As I’m sitting here, I’m trying to think of all the times that I looked at my transgressors with love or compassion. I can’t recall any. And I am ashamed.
I hope you’ll take up a challenge with me. Over the course of the next week, I am praying for compassion and a softening of my heart to forgive one person. I will admit to you as brothers and sisters that there is one person who springs to my mind whom I have not forgiven for what he did 3 years ago. My goal for the next week is to pray that our Father will empty me of myself and fill me instead with His spirit. I know that it is humanly impossible to forgive on our own. Our hearts of Adam are not capable of complete forgiveness and unconditional love, but a heart filled with the spirit of the Almighty is readily capable of complete forgiveness. Ask our God to isolate that one person whom you need to forgive. Ask Him to give you His heart. Ask Him to release you from the prison of anger. Ask Him to make you more like Jesus. I will pray for you, and I hope you’ll pray for me.