Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Not Trying to Make You Feel Guilty
"'Lord, when did we see You in jail and visit You?'...As
you visited them, you visited Me!"
It's a big word for us.
It's about restoring broken relationships.
Eternally, it's about restoring our broken relationship with God through faith in Savior Jesus.
We are forgiven/redeemed through faith.
Existentially, it's about our restored relationship with God through faith in Savior Jesus expressed through prayers and efforts to restore our broken relationships with...everyone/anyone.
We forgive/redeem to express our faith as forgiven/redeemed.
It's a consistent theme of the Bible.
God wants everybody to be forgiven/redeemed.
Everybody who's forgiven/redeemed wants everybody to be forgiven/redeemed.
God provides the way back to Him through Jesus as encouraged/enlightened/enabled by the Holy Spirit.
With gratitude by obedience, the faithfully forgiven/redeemed provide the way back to each other through Jesus as encouraged/enlightened/enabled by the Holy Spirit.
Read the short course on this in Matthew 6:12; and then as emphasized in Matthew 6:14-15.
It means there's always a way back to God and each other.
It's His way which is our way if we believe/belong in/to Him.
It's Christianity by the book.
Frank's been in jail for over six months.
Charged with horrific crimes, he'll probably go to trial within the next six months.
This is not confidential.
It's public knowledge.
Innocence or guilt is ultimately up to Frank and God; existentially, it will be up to a jury.
I visit him on Thursday mornings for two reasons.
First, I want to protect the church from any connection/incrimination to/by the charges.
Second, Jesus commands it; and though I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Him by praying and trying to be obedient as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, I'm scratching/praying/trying.
Anyway, I was really getting tired of it; especially because the increasing revival on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois has placed increasing demands on my time and energies.
I left last Thursday and thought about maybe...
Later that afternoon, Frank called me.
I said, "Frank, I just saw you a few hours ago. What's up?"
I don't think my tone was inviting, welcoming, including, or punctuated by agape.
He said, "I want you to know I really appreciate you coming to see me. Nobody comes to see me. I don't get any letters. I don't get any phone calls. I don't get any visits. Only you come to see me. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you coming to see me."
I wept after the click.
We have four growing adult Sunday School classes in our family of faith.
I attend one with 10-15 other men; and I wouldn't miss it for anything other than worship.
On the Sunday following my Thursday conversation with Frank, we were talking about redemption.
After repeating my conversation with Frank, I was a tad taken aback when brother after brother began to declare determination to write or call or visit or...
Interrupting one of the best teachers/mentors that I've ever had along with the determined declarations of my brothers, I apologized if I had come across as judgmental or trying to make anyone feel guilty for not writing or calling or visiting or...
I explained my two reasons for going to see him.
I confessed the sin of the first one (selfishness) and the desire of the second one (obedient agape).
Truly, I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty about...
My only reason for bringing it up was to say even someone charged and jailed or even convicted hasn't been forsaken/rejected/damned by God.
There's only one unforgivable sin.
Redemption is a really, really, really big word/theme for people who want to follow Jesus by the book.
Over and over and over again, the good news is He wants everybody forgiven/redeemed/delivered/saved - existentially felt as eternally graced.
I only wanted to say God has a way back for everyone/anyone no matter who, what, where, when, why, or...
I only wanted to say that if God has a way back for everyone/anyone, then we must have a way back for...
Follow the Leader!
But, truly, again, I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty about...Frank.
On second thought...
I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Annnnnnnd I don't think anyone can make you or me feel guilty unless we are guilty; or we're really, you know, kinda sick in the...
People who allow anyone other than God to define 'em are really, uh, you know, kinda sick in the...
Only God gets to define us from womb to tomb - here and now and in the end.
Annnnnnnd He'd just die for us to prove His love for us because we're His children; including you, me, them, and...Frank.
Buried in one of those DSB series books of his, William Barclay lamented/lauded only God as being really, really, really forgiving/redeeming.
He said God is much, much, much more forgiving/redeeming than people who say they love God.
The omission of John 13:34 from the practical application of that pretension comes to mind.
Now I'm not trying to make you or me or anyone feel guilty by recalling that; buuuuuuut maybe...
I guess that's why we spend so much time trying to understand redemption.
Blessings and Love!