Knowing I am trapped in time temporarily, and being convinced that I am destined for a kingdom where sin is abolished and righteousness reigns, I delight in the prospects of restitution and renewal of things damaged during this infinitesimal period of my earthly existence. Having said this, I find a terrible struggle- perhaps not unlike Jacob wrestling with the Angel on his way back to his homeland – to conquer the feelings that rise up and threaten to excuse behavior that brings darkness rather than light into my soul and my situations. The feelings are so real and felt while the kingdom is so distant and vague to this mortal body. The emotions are “earthward inclinations” and I am seeking things above. The moods and pain justify all kinds of truly evil, hurtful behavior and attitude, and most of the time it even seems righteous. Someone wrongs me, and my feelings scream that I should either exclude or combat the person. I know I should resist the urge to objectify and diminish the hurtful person by my anger. But I do not feel like it! I must struggle- indeed die a painful death – to choose not to claim my rights, not to be provoked, not to brood over an injury, to be patient (AGAIN), to choose not to be perverse, proud, or insolent. But love demands it! (1 Corinthians 13) I am not called to earthly love, but the Love that denies itself for the benefit of the object of its love (1 Th 4:9) – the one who just destroyed my heart. This is God’s call to an immortal! But my mortality seeps uninvited into the pain, cherishes the angst, strikes out to defend, nurses the self pity, and justifies the darkness in my soul. The battle is on!! I know my Father wants me to forgive the transgressor out of love for the One Who paid for innumerable wrongs that I have inflicted on Him. The Father forgave me for His sake, and I must do likewise if I am to call myself a disciple. I have to choose to be hurt again and absorb by forgiveness the price of the wrong done to me. As a child of light I must resist the overwhelming impulse to strike back or isolate myself. This believing God thing is no game!
One of my favorite authors, Andree` Seu nails it: “Forgiveness is the hardest thing you will ever do. That’s why most people don’t do it. We talk about it, cheer for it, preach on it, and I’m sure we’ve practiced it…. Forgiveness is a brutal mathematical transaction done with fully engaged faculties. It’s my pain instead of yours. I eat the debt. I absorb the misery I wanted to inflict on you, and you go scot free…And now for the unthinkable: not only to forgive but to seek the good. Nature abhors a vacuum and Jesus admits of no middle ground between hate and love. Pray for him.” (‘The Thing We Don’t Do’ We Shall Have Spring Again)
Immortality is tough on the mortal!! God’s kingdom is at odds with mine. And most painfully! To radiate light in a dark day is a challenge. It squeezes. I can fight for truth and justice in the world. It costs. But fighting for forgiveness in my own soul is excruciating. It kills! To seek the good of one who has inflicted immense pain and returned insult or indifference to my love requires the most strenuous effort of my will. I have to fight the emotions that would undo my Christianity. I must talk to the Lord and then embrace HIs perspective on the situation. I know at the start that He will call for the impossible – the overlooking of a genuine offense – and so it is an act of will even to start the process. I resist. I resent. I procrastinate. But I am miserable. I proceed, and there is overflowing peace in my decision to let Him take care of it. My soul is at rest once more, though I know I will have ongoing battles against the waves of recurring fresh pain. The “seventy times seven” spells impending struggle. But I understand what is at stake. So I choose (by the grace of God) to believe the Eternal One and act in a way which betrays my earthbound feelings – a wise betrayal indeed. Will wins over emotion! Immortality won, temporality defeated. For now!
Being salt hurts!
Hear from Brant Hansen, author of Unoffenable here
For we ourselves have known what it is to be ignorant, disobedient and deceived, the slaves of various desires and pleasant feelings, while our lives were spent in malice and jealousy—we were hateful and we hated each other. But when the kindness of God our saviour and his love towards man appeared, he saved us—not by virtue of any moral achievements of ours, but by the cleansing power of a new birth and the moral renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he gave us so generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour. The result is that we are acquitted by his grace, and can look forward to inheriting life for evermore. This is solid truth. Titus 3:3-8 jbp
…and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. And the apostles said to the Lord ‘Increase our faith’. Luke 17:4-5
– but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15