Wednesday, November 12, 2014
how do you follow Jesus when you have a justice heart?
there are a lot of thoughts swirling in my head about what it looks like to walk in faith in Jesus during this life.
did Jesus really mean for us to "turn the other cheek?" when peter asked Him how many times he should forgive someone who did him wrong, did Jesus really mean "70 times seven" as saying over and over again? i mean, if some really does something unjust against us, are we to let it slide or make sure wrong is made right?
i am not trying to just ask rhetorical questions. my dad always described me as being someone who had a justice heart. i have a really hard time knowing that something was wrong and that nothing is done to rectify it. i get it when people want to wrong the rights of the world. i get it when it feels like a violation of everything i know to be true to just "let it go."
i don't think Jesus was saying to just let things go. i don't think He was saying that the wrong done isn't a big deal. i mean, look at His life - it was a really big deal that He was lied about and given the death sentence; He was beaten, humiliated, and left naked and half dead on a cross with people spitting on Him, taunting Him to make His own justice for Himself if He truly was who He said He was. i am pretty sure that Jesus knew that it was a big deal injustice happening to Him.
so, tell me, why was He able to say, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing," when it seems pretty obvious that each person there fully knew they were killing Him and mocking Him? i don't think they had the insanity plea available. i don't think it was just a mistake. i think it was premeditated, wicked, and the worst offense that could have been done against a person, let alone the Person of God. i don't think Jesus was "brushing it off."
when i talk to my kids about forgiving their brothers that do wrong against them, i really try to start with the context that what their offending brother did really was WRONG. i don't want them to think that it is something simply to get over and ignore. i want my kids to know there there truly is a day of reckoning where each one of us will stand before a Righteous Judge who will make each wrong be paid for in full. each one of us will be required to fully pay the offenses that we committed - unless.
unless we cast ourselves at the mercy of Jesus on that cross.
i ask my kids when they are struggling with the forgiveness thing if they want to receive the mercy of Jesus over their lives when they stand before the Father. you see, it is clearly written in more than one place that the key to receiving forgiveness is to forgive.
to the merciful, they shall receive mercy.
mercy does not mean that wrong was not committed. the only time anyone needs mercy is when what they did was really truly wrong. i am in desperate need of mercy in my life, and this is THE reason i commit my heart over and over again to giving mercy to those who commit wrong against me. i do not do it for their sake, though i am learning more and more how much i should have their sake in mind - i do it because i want all my sins covered when i stand before the Father on that day of judgement. i don't want any areas brought up where He can point out that i refused mercy or forgiveness in situations that i thought i was justified in requiring things to be made right. i think of the parable of the man who owed a great debt and was forgiven, then went to his neighbor and demanded he pay the small debt back immediately. when the judge heard of this he was infuriated, for good reason. i do not want to be that man. i want to be the one to receive mercy because i gave the undeserved mercy to others. i want to be the one who was so thankful for my great debt being forgiven that it is overflow to forgive others of what they owe me.
i do not concern myself with whether i will be viewed as a doormat or not. if this was what Jesus was mostly concerned with, He would NOT have given us the example of dying on a cross. if Jesus was mostly concerned with if we would be treated as a doormat, then He would NOT have told us that we must carry our own cross to follow Him.
He did not give many ways to follow Him. i cannot choose how i follow Him. if i am to be a follower of Jesus, i must choose His way. that is frightening. i do not want to carry my cross. i do not want to be wronged. i do not want to be wronged over and over again, maybe even to the point of death. i am being totally serious. i struggle with this big time in my own heart and i wonder, if i struggle so much with forgiving small things done against me by my children, my husband, my family, and my friends, how in the world am i even going to give my life if that is what is asked of me? am i even saved when there are christians giving their lives all over the world for not denying Christ, and i struggle if someone broke my stuff and doesn't offer to fix it or if my husband doesn't apologize for hurting my feelings?
why would it even matter to give mercy? why is this how Jesus asks us to follow Him? it only matters because our God is a God of mercy. it is because Jesus was a perfect representation of what the Father is like - we can look at how Jesus lived every day of His life and know the Father. Jesus wants us as well to be a true witness of what He is like, and what the Father is like in turn. when someone wrongs me and i give them mercy and forgiveness - especially when they do not ask for it, think they need it, or are willing to make anything right on their end - i am showing a picture of what this awesome God i serve is like. i am showing that the only reason i even have an ounce of power or desire to show mercy and forgiveness is because i am constantly reminded how it was, is, and will be shown to me.
i am a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus. i do not ever want to forget this because it is the only way i am saved from the wrath of God.
so, if i am liberal in showing mercy and forgiving from my heart, not requiring wrong to be made right, i WILL probably be treated like a doormat. i will most likely be taken advantage of by those looking out for their own gain. i will most likely be misunderstood and mocked. but i believe that God will make ALL the wrong things right when Jesus returns, and i want to learn to be patient for His justice and not try to make my own justice. i know this doesn't come easy to me, and anyone who really knows me knows how much i struggle to be a witness of this. i wish i could write this conviction i have and at the same time have that perfect witness of it that Jesus had. i really wish, and hope to one day, have the type of walk in my life that you could look at how i conduct myself and say, "i think she really does believe those things that she wrote about." this is my goal. i mess up over and over again, but i have purposed my heart to learn how to walk out a life of forgiveness that isn't deserved and to wait upon the justice of God because i really believe that day of accountability is real and it scares me a little. okay, it scares me a lot. i ask the Father for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in this because it is so hard. so terribly hard.
i think Jesus asked the Father to forgive the ones who enacted the greatest injustice against Him in the midst of dying, because He had full understanding of the day of judgement coming and He wanted as many to be saved from the wrath of God as possible. once in a while i get a small revelation of the realness of this day coming, and i have grace on my heart to forgive even deeper and cry out for the Lord to NOT make those who have wronged me pay but to give them full forgiveness and mercy forever. i do not want anyone to go to the lake of fire. i really don't. it terrifies me. i want my life to somehow point others to the mercy of Jesus that they would surrender their lives to Him as well and be saved by Him forever. i want people to know there is mercy available and that the day of judgement is real.
i know this is a long rambling, but these are my thoughts this morning. the belief that this is all real is the only thing that gives me strength to really turn the other cheek - to allow someone access to hurt me AGAIN, possibly in the same way and hopefully be praying for the Lord to be merciful to them in the midst of it. i fall short. i know i do. but i desire for the Lord to grow me in this area because i believe it is the biggest deal of what following Jesus looks like. if i cannot acknowledge that my own life is in desperate need of forgiveness, then it is much harder to see the why of me living in a way that could very well leave me without seeing justice in this life.