Tag Archives: forgiveness

If You Can…

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…start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can always be cheerful,   ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and  boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every  day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved  ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and  blame without resentment
If you can ignore a friend’s limited  education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend  better than a poor friend,
If you can conquer tension  without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

You’re probably…
The Family Dog!

I wish I had the chutzpah of the family dog.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.

That last bit (“Love never ends”) got me as I pondered it yesterday.

“Love never ends”.

Other versions use the word “fail”: “Love never fails”.

It does ALL these things with perfect consistency and regularity.

You can promise based on love, because it will not end or fail.

It keeps on giving and loving and loving and giving.

I can’t do that.

Even on my good days I can forgive myself much sooner than I can forgive anyone else. And it takes a while to forgive myself.

And it’s not just faults that I have issues forgiving others for.

It’s mishaps and mess-ups. Stumbles and foibles instead of malicious intent that I encounter most of the time from others. Missing this or dropping that. And I get frustrated.

I have to walk away when someone doesn’t have the same touch I do with electronics (a terrible state of affairs for someone who works on an IT help desk).

I have to take a breather when someone, even someone I am close to, misses a turn on a map.

What I have isn’t love, right now.

But I want it to be.

Not to change my definition of love to agree with how I currently am, but to change who I am to grow ever closer to the definition of love.

Love is something beyond me, I cannot will it to be or not, nor can I conform it by saying it is so.

And so when the bar is set at “Love never ends”, it’s a measure of how far I have to go instead of how much I need to define.

How To Evangelize

Going through Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” series in Sunday School, yesterday we discussed his admonition that we ought to “gladly make others glad”.

First, our gladness equates to the fullness of our joy, our satisfaction with our life in Christ.

The others gladness can only occur when they recognize their sin, accept Christs forgiveness and redemptive work on the Cross, and begin and work out their own relationship with God.

One of the cardinal points of this teaching is that we, despite our responsibility to make others glad, are wholly and completely unable to make others glad. We are tools, we are the conduit used by God to bring about gladness in others.

But don’t think ours is a passive place, as our work for God is not passive in the slightest sense but active and our will and energy aligned with God’s work is necessary. As I love working for those I love, I ought to give all to the God who ransomed me.

And so, with our energy, and with our responsibility, and with our inability, we confront the admonition: “…always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.”

And we ask, practically speaking: If I were to go to the door of a stranger across town with two people from Church, and (just thinking averages and chances) told them about Christs work on the cross. Would it matter? Would it make a difference in their life?

It may, it may not.

If however, you were “in the world but not of it” in the sense that you made relationships with unsaved people and allowed them to see into your life as you saw into theirs, and then told God: I’m ready for whatever trials You bring my way, only help me be strong and consistant in my love and trust in You, and let my patience and heartiness borne of Your strength in my life radiate and illuminate even in the depths of the trials You’ve allowed and shine such that my friends and neighbors who do not yet know the amazing power of Your might be unable to understand the peace within me. And give me the answer then as they see Your hope in me.

We are not saving people to heaven necessarily, but to a relationship with God.

To get someone to embrace heaven for any reason (to see loved ones, to escape hell, to live forever in bliss) besides the wonderful relationship we Christians experience with the Father of all, is to create a weak and cheap faith.

It’s like marrying for sex: sure it’s a cool thing that’s really fun, but the real reason to marry is because you can’t live without this best of friends who is so different from you and yet completes you in so many ways. Marrying for sex is one thing, but marrying for love and enjoying sex with that person you love is so far and above the former that it does not even bear comparing.

It causes me to think that the Ray Comfort method of evangelism, while it has it’s place in our sound-bite culture, isn’t the most effective method and may be more likely to create weak faith and charlatans of Christianity who at the first or second onset of adversity promised, will fall away and show “they were not of us”.