Summary: God calls us to forgive.
Christianity has often been referred to as a crutch for the week. Have you ever heard that. I have a lot of problems with that statement. Mainly because I think that life – at some level was much simplier – before I was a Christian. In my opinion live would be easier – if I were NOT be a Christian. The commands and exhortations, the way we are supposed to live as Christians can make life – actually much more difficult for us – BUT - it’s a Better LIFE. At times more difficult – but it’s a better life.
When we live without Christ - there is bitterness, apathy, despair, hopelessness, revenge. But life with Christ there is hope, fulfillment, love, grace, unity. What we have to do and how we have to live to get those results can be difficult, but when we choose to live lives of faith and trust that what the bibles says is true – then that makes all the difference.
And the really great news about all of this is that God gives us the power to live out all these things as he lives in us and changes us and make us new people – God is transforming us into the image of Christ. However, just like we had to freely choose our new life with Christ, we must freely choose to allow God to work in our lives, and trust him and do what He says and live out (with His help) the kind of life he desires us to lead. That takes commitment, it takes humility – as we recognize we can’t do it alone and most of all – it requires that we trust God. That we trust God with our lives and our future –even when it doesn’t make sense.
If you haven’t figured it out already - the Christian life often doesn’t make sense – we have a limited, finite ability in our perception of the bigger picture. The picture where God is the artist and not us. It’s by design. God intends for us to learn to trust him. As we do that over time – we will begin to change and become more like Christ.
I’d like to cover a difficult topic today. This can be more difficult for some then it is for others – depending on what you have experienced in life. But I’m convinced that if we embrace the truth of God’s word on this topic it will help us to grow exponentially in our walk with God. What I’d like to talk to you about today is forgiveness.
Forgiveness – that’s a powerful word. But it is easier said then done isn’t it? We don’t like to forgive. What we really want to do is retaliate. In fact, some of us have come up with little creative ways to do that.
Maybe we talk behind people’s back and we try to get other people not to like them. We create a faction and recruit other people to be mad at them with us. In fact - I learned very early on you can get away with talking bad about people in the church if you do it the right way. All you have to do is first say “Bless his heart…”
Let me give you an example – lets say – you and I were talking about our Worship Minister – Jeremy Tudor - All I would really have to say is - Jeremy - Bless His Heart – he doesn’t know anything about leading worship.”
Just a subtle little way we retaliate – or take revenge. I don’t recommend doing that – especially now that the secret is out.
Some of us retaliate with sarcasm. It’s a way to mask words so they appear humorous – but it’s just another way to retaliate. Especially when we do it in front of a group of people and direct it at the certain offending person
Sometimes we retaliate financially – J. Paul Getty – changed his will 21 times before he died because of grudges against his family. It’s not natural to forgive. But the bible tells us – it commands us to forgive.
I heard a story about a little boy that got in trouble he was punished by his dad and later that night, they were about to eat dinner and the dad tells his son – Listen son – I know you don’t feel like saying the blessings but I want you to do it anyway. The boy grudgingly said ok and He prayed “Dear God thank you for preparing this table in the presence of my enemies.”
There is something in us that resists forgiveness. Forgiving is difficult.
Some of you are here today and you have been deeply hurt, legitimately wronged by someone. Maybe you’ve gone through…