The Natural Response…

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13b)

In his devotional book, Hidden In Christ, James Bryan Smith makes a thought-provoking statement, in essence saying that many Christians think that God’s forgiveness depends on us forgiving others, or that we will be forgiven by God in proportion to the extent we forgive others. He points out that is simply not true. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Before we even knew God, Christ died for us. Before we had a chance to forgive others, Christ died for us. We forgive as a natural outpouring of what Christ has done for us. In Smith’s words…

“So what is Jesus telling us when He instructs us to forgive others? And why does He connect it with the forgiveness of God in Mark 11:25? He gave several illustrations, through parables, about the necessity of forgiving others because we ourselves have been forgiven (See Matthew 18:21-35). We can easily make the mistake of thinking that divine forgiveness is determined by human forgiveness — in other words, to think that God only forgives me if I forgive others, and in the exact measure that I forgive others.

“We cannot say, ‘I accept God’s forgiveness for my sins, but I refuse to forgive others.’ This is actually impossible, not just theologically but psychologically. If we truly know – in the depths of our being – that we have been completely forgiven, then we naturally forgive those who have harmed us in some way.

“When we do find ourselves struggling to forgive someone, we should not grit our teeth and merely try harder to forgive them. Instead, we should dwell on the fundamental reality that we ourselves are people who need forgiveness, and then set our minds on the reality that God, in Christ, has forgiven us completely.”

For me personally, this is the essence of forgiveness. And I need to be reminded of it constantly. It is understanding how flawed we all are. It is understanding how depraved we all are. We all have baggage. We all have issues. We are all broken. We all have sin. As Smith says, “We are all fighting a great battle.”

And we all desperately need the healing touch of the Savior.

FaceTime with God

My friend Cindy is a deep thinker and I mean that in the most complimentary way. She always is pondering something meaningful and wonderful about life. She loves God and it shows.

Yesterday she got my wheels turning. In the morning, on Facebook she asked, “If you had five minutes to FaceTime with God, what would you ask Him?” In the early evening, she then posted:

“If I could FaceTime God to ask Him one question, my question to Him would be: What do you see, God, when you look at me?

“If the purpose of Christianity is to transform us into the likeness of His Son, I would want to know how much of Jesus does God see in me.

“I doubt I would like the answer, but I would still ask.”

How much of Jesus does God see in me? What a great question!

But I think she would like the answer. If you have given your life over to Jesus and have accepted His sacrifice for your sins, then I think you would like God’s answer, too.

God loves us so much. He loves us in spite of… us. There’s nothing we can do to change that. You and I are the apple of His eye. (Psalm 17:8) He delights over us with SINGING! (Zephaniah 3:17) I can’t even wrap my head around that! And since we have been clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27), I believe that when God looks at me and you, Cindy, He sees Jesus. In fact, God’s Word says our life is now hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

How much of Jesus does God see in me? All of Jesus. Hallelujah!

Good News indeed.