I’m going to try posting again, see how it goes. What better time for renewal than Lent, after all that is what the season is about. No promises, but here goes. (more…)
Posts tagged ‘Love’
A beautiful story on love and forgiveness. Thanks, Karen.
Vengeance dominates the tide of social media these days. Sometimes it comes in the form of mob justice descending upon the perpetrator of a crime inadequately punished, other times as smaller and subtler smears against those who have wronged us.
But perhaps we could spend some time pondering on the perennial tug-of-war between two opposing forces: Vengeance and Mercy.
The desire for revenge is rooted deep in us. We want those who hurt us to hurt, those who shamed us to be shamed. Whether we inflict the retaliatory attacks ourselves or by inciting others, the root of that thirst is one and the same. Sometimes we confuse the desire for revenge with the desire for justice, and certainly there seems to be an overlap. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that at some point the streams diverge. Justice ends (ideally) in some kind of restoration, whereas unabated revenge…
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I’ve seen bumper stickers with WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) but that’s not the real question, instead the question should be What Would You Do? Each person and each situation is different. Our concerns for others, for ourselves, for our loved ones, where we live, and our lifetime experience all come together to make each of us unique. What is the right answer for one might not be the right answer for another.
Several years ago a group of radical Muslims in Africa stopped a bus, boarded it, and demanded all of the Jews stand up. What happened next was unexpected. Everyone on the bus stood up: Jew, Christian, and Muslim. They stood together to protect each other, not knowing if they would all be killed. The terrorists left.
Several years ago terrorists captured a plane and turned it towards Washington DC with the intent of crashing it into the Capitol building. The passengers wouldn’t allow it and tried to take the plane back, we know how that ended.
Last year a friend of mine was driving home after work, it was nighttime. He saw a woman on the side of the road trying to change her tire, so he pulled over to help. Something seemed strange, the tire jack was on the bumper, but the car tire wasn’t off the ground. Just then a glint caught his eye on the other side of the car, he saw something flash off of the light from his headlights. Quickly he put the car in gear and drove off, in his rear view mirror he could see someone come out from the side of the car swinging what looked like a crowbar. He was lucky.
What would you do in each of these instances: Would you stand up? Would you join in the attack? Would you stop to help? Every action we take comes with possible consequences. People say you should ask WWJD, but we are human. Peter had his doubts and chose to preserve his life when the crowd asked if he knew Jesus. We look at that and say we would do differently. But, if Peter had stood his ground then he might not have been around to lead The Way; Christianity might not be what it is today. It’s okay to not take the “high road” in every circumstance. You are not going to be judged if you don’t always “do the right thing.” Jesus didn’t judge Peter, he didn’t toss Peter out of the group, he understood, and so should we. We’re not always going to make the “right” choice; we’re not always going to do what Jesus would. But we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it. Jesus would forgive us for being human, just as he forgave Peter.
Love doesn’t judge, it forgives.
Jesus asked that we love each other with the same love that he showed to us. Love demands two things: acceptance and forgiveness.
If we are unwilling to accept that others may see/feel/believe different that we do then how can we truly love them? God accepts that we are different from each other, he made each of us as we were when we were born, and into the families into which we were born. He did not make us clones of each other, but made each of us different, and incomplete. With all due respect to Simon and Garfunkel, we were not made to be islands, but to need each other. Man needs woman, the hunter needs the gatherer, the warrior needs the diplomat, the liberal needs the conservative, and vice-versa. The Christian needs the Jew, the Muslim, and, yes, even the Hindu and Native American. It is only by seeing God in his Infinite Diversity that we can see God in everyone we encounter. And it is only by seeing God in others that we can accept each other fully.
Forgiveness is the other thing that love demands. We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human. Anyone who claims to not make mistakes has just made another. From Eve to Adam, down through the ages, man has made mistakes, but God has continued to love us. But you can’t forgive them unless you first love them, then accept that it is because of your differences that probably caused the disagreement in the first place. True forgiveness requires that we put the offense behind us, and not bring it up again. We cannot forget that it happened, but we can leave it in the past.
Acceptance and forgiveness aren’t easy, but for a Christian they are necessary. God forgave mankind for abandoning his will, then accepted that it was because of our free will that it happened. Jesus was the sign of that forgiveness, and our promised eternity with him is the sign of his acceptance.
Love, acceptance, and forgiveness. All are required of Christians, and all are the signs that we truly are followers of Christ.
John 13:35 (RSV) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Will people know you are a Christian?
Today the world, like it or not, remembers the birth of Jesus some 2000 years ago. Remembers, though not necessarily celebrates. In rememberance of the Gift given to the world of God’s son we present gift to our loved ones. When I was young (and Moses was trying to tread water in the Nile) we gave gifts we felt expressed our feelings towards the other person. These days we give gifts that advertisers tell us we should give, and if we don’t give that Helzberg diamond then we really don’t love her. (more…)