Forgiveness means that I must refuse revenge and must bear the offense of the “jerk.” I absorb the debt the “jerk” owes to me. I do not make him pay. That hurts. Yet, that is the easy burden and light yoke to which Christ has called his disciples. Through our acts of forgiveness, God has provided the message of reconciliation.
As mentioned in our previous posted, I have come to realize that we make up many reasons for not reading the Bible. We have several excuses that we use for our lack of obedience. However, the Bible can sometimes be difficult to read and understand and it’s easy to fall into a trap of neglecting God’s Word, those are still excuses for not reading the Bible.
Over the years, I have come to realize that we make up many reasons for not reading the Bible. Many people say things like “I don’t understand what I am reading,” “I find the Bible to be boring,” “I don’t know how to pronounce some of the names” or “I don’t understand what I’m reading.” Are these valid statements or are they actually excuses? I personally believe that the truth lies in the middle: The Bible can sometimes be difficult to read and understand and it’s easy to fall into a trap of neglecting God’s Word.
Saying “good people disagree on abortion” is meant to keep the debate civilized. Meanwhile children are slaughtered by doctors with their mothers’ permission or are left to die in linen closets while we have our civilized debate. Good people do not disagree on the issue of abortion. Good people transformed by the Gospel come face to face with the least of these and that changes everything.
The gospel must be proclaimed explicitly with words. This true gospel—where, for His glory, God the Father tore apart and bled out the body of Son of God instead of pouring out His wrath on us who deserved it—has the transformational power to make those who are dead in sin to become dead to sin and alive in Christ. This is the gospel Christians need to believe and the Church needs to proclaim.
Recently a Gillette advertisement ignited controversy with its campaign against "toxic masculinity." This ad, titled "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be," admonishes men to leave the herd of males behaving badly and join the #METOO movement. The thrust of the ad was to accuse the majority of men everywhere of being oppressive bullies who victimize women and children. The aim is to erase any distinction between male and female by highlighting all the bad things that some men do, and insist that most men do them. The push is to remake masculinity, not into the image of God, but into a softer, more pliable, easily manipulated image.
The hope announced by Christmas bells can still be heard. Can you hear them? Though your circumstances may make it seem that it is always winter and never Christmas, the bells peal the hope of Christmas all the more loudly. God has made a way of salvation and life for us. The message of the Gospel announces the defeat of evil and the triumph of good! Though you may face the loneliness and the heartache of loss, the Christmas bells peal their declaration that hope in the redemption of creation is here!
In our pursuit of God are we on a truth quest or merely a happiness quest? Do we just want God to make us happy, or are we willing to follow the truth to where it leads? Is our happiness in this life or the next one God's greatest concern? The conventional wisdom is that God desires our happiness, but when we read what God actually says, we find a different picture. So, if happiness is not the end of mankind, what is? To find the answer we must follow the truth where it leads. We must be on a truth quest.
Faith is not a belief in something despite the evidence. Too many Christians think faith and reason are enemies. People think faith is "believing hard enough," or "believing in something despite the evidence." Some think faith is some transactional model where we do our part and then God does his part. We "believe" and then God makes it so. Belief, however, does not create truth.
Respecting myself first is about my needs, my wants, my rights first at the expense of others. That attitude is a recipe for the kind of world we have right now where everyone is going around respecting themselves first, and no one is giving respect because everyone is feeling disrespected. This cycle feeds on itself and perpetuates the evil. Perhaps it is time to believe the truth that we are to prefer others in love first. When everyone is respecting each other, we will all feel respected.