“When God alone is with us in the strange, trackless forests of what we really are, there is potential for us to do or say all sorts of unpleasant things. Take heart. Whatever those things might be, he will forgive us, as long as we extend the same courtesy to others.” —Adrian Plass
Forgiving others isn’t a tough as we make it—yes, as we make it. Jesus taught us how—minus a step that we added. To forgive someone isn’t to finally feel good about them, which is a terrible burden of often hopeless, if not disingenuous effort. If we’re waiting to feel good about our offenders, we’ll be waiting a really long time—God never told us to feel good about them. Whenever Jesus taught us to forgive others, He always used the same metaphor. Debt—like keeping a ledger. Jesus’ death in our place erased the ledger of every unplayable penalty we’ll ever owe God—and He did it when we weren’t even likeable—when we were His enemies—objects of His wrath and ungodly. Through Jesus He erased the ledger of our unpayable debt. When the Books are finally opened, they’ll be blank.
And that’s how we forgive our enemies—even the unforgivable. God doesn’t require us to like them, but to discharge their debt against us—yes, they did bad things, but they owe me nothing—not even an apology, forevermore. Like Jesus did to us.
Jesus said: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” Now ya know.
“You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ [But] In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” —C.S. Lewis
We all want a better world—in fact we really need a new one. Someday. Until then, the world isn’t the problem, rather it’s the people shaping it, who crave a perfect world while rejecting any perfect, benevolent, loving standard. That’s where Jesus’ followers come in. We aren’t Him, but God is making us to be as much like Him as anyone can in this messy world. He’s often hated—and that means we will be, too—He said so. But in a world of “men without chests” we bring a beating heart of purpose, love and salvation to an increasingly turbulent generation. Until He comes, we are what the world needs—because we bring Him, all of Him, plus nothing.
The world is starving itself. Bring the fruit.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle [you know nothing about].” —Ian McLaren
We impact every person we meet—there’s no stopping it. When we’re indifferent, people feel it—and often learn it—from us. The same thing is true when we’re kind, compassion and loving—people feel it and learn it—from us. That’s how the world is changed—it’s how Jesus did it and it’s why His impact has traveled so far for so long so powerfully. Walking as He walked Him, even the smallest person has mighty impact. It’s just that big.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room…” —Bette Reese
Give ’em Heaven.
Among the Jews is an old expression, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”* Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.” Today we thank God for those men and women of the United States Armed Forces who stood in the obstinate gap between peace and violence and fell defending liberty, virtue and faith—defending us—and even saving the world.
*Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” —C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
People need God’s love and He chose us to lavish it on them. But it isn’t safe—it breaks hearts and leaves scars—such love got Jesus killed. It’s not bottled up among safe friends and it can’t coexist with self-protection. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Now that’s risky.
Go make someone’s day—perhaps even that of your enemy.
“Christians often explain away miracles for the sake of being rational about things… They acknowledge the God Who Created Everything, but find it difficult believing that this same God would occasionally suspend the natural laws of His own creation for the sake of His glory, because it’s ‘not rational’.” —Zachary Jason McCarl
Pray big—rationality not required. God still parts seas.
I’ve performed hundreds of weddings and done way too much marriage counseling. Though I’ll stay the course, I admit I’ve toyed with the idea of not doing it anymore. Why? I’m weary of perjury. Read on—C.S. Lewis’ observations just may save your love.
“Justice…includes keeping promises. Now—everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death… To this someone may reply that he regarded the promise made in church as a mere formality and never intended to keep it. Whom, then, was he trying to deceive when he made it? God? That was really very unwise. Himself? That was not very much wiser. The bride or bridegroom or the “in-laws”? That was treacherous. Most often, I think, the couple (or one of them) hoped to deceive the public. They wanted the respectability that is attached to marriage without intending to pay the price—that is, they were imposters, they cheated. If they are still contented cheats, I have nothing to say to them—who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on people who have not yet wished to be merely honest? If they have now come to their senses and want to be honest—their promise—already made—constrains them. And this, you will see, comes under the heading of justice—not that of chastity. If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another—unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.”
Marriage’s forgotten glue is the truth of the promises heartily declared in front of witnesses and God. We still musn’t take the Name of the Lord in vain—which has everything to do with vows and little to do with profanity. Tragically, the value of a couple’s wedding vows have so diminished that their promises need only hold until one decide’s they shouldn’t anymore. Even the witnesses to the “I do’s” merely see themselves as guests and no longer as a threat of mass accountability. When people operate by any lesser truth than that of God’s immutable Word, integrity has no constraints and accountability holds no terror. The proof is in the perjury.
Actor Peter Graves, when asked how his 50-year marriage lasted so long, forcefully replied, “We promised!”
Yes, we did.