I’ve heard some say, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” The saying is a little humorous, but some actually feel this way. It is unfortunate to live a life that wants to get even, for it is the seed of anger, and when that seed is in full bloom it consumes a lot of one’s energy to sustain it. In the end anger hurts us more than it hurts the person we are angry at, for it affects our relationships, actions, and outlook on life. Therefore, it’s quite cathartic to let go of one’s anger towards another.
Jesus was asked, “How many times should I forgive someone? Up to Seven times?” Jesus replied, “Seven times seventy.” How could anyone count that many forgive-nesses? I think Jesus’ point was forgiveness is not simply tolerating another person, but it’s having a desire for real, personal, and loving forgiveness between individuals. Jesus demands such an attitudes from his followers because unlimited forgiveness ultimately points others toward God’s forgiveness of them.
I know what you’re thinking, “What about this case, and that case, and what if the person does this or that to me?” I am quite aware of all the contingencies that we live under, but I also know that God takes care of his saints, and oftentimes we just have to trust God to work some-things out, and to protect us. Thus we learn to let God take care of the details while we forgive others.
The North American Christian Conference was held in Anaheim, Ca. this year, so Cindy and I were able to attend. The yearly event is for Christians to come together and be refreshed. The theme this year was, “A better Story.” And that is what we heard, personal stories from Christians around the world of how Christ’s great love for the lost is saving the world.
Why does the Christian story matter? Job 14:7-9 gives us a clue, “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.” The phrase, “At just the scent of water it will flourish,” is my point.
We all have stories of how Jesus has changed our life, and many of those stories contain pain. But it is wrong to think that the only story I have to tell is one of happiness. If God wants to write a story of pain in my life to further the kingdom, what does it matter? For the telling of that story may well be the scent that causes another to flourish.
When King David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, “Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled” (2 Sam. 6:6). Uzzah thought God needed a little help with the covenant, so he reached out to help God. In the next verse we read the act was irreverent, and Uzzah died next to the ark.
This week a friend sent me a text which said, “I’ve read the story and God wins in the end.” He was not the author of the saying, but it is a good reminder; our God is large and in charge.
We have this underlying fear that God will be bested in the end; he will not be able to fulfill his promises. When that little shoulder sitting demon whispers such doubts in our ear, we, like Uzzah, reach out to steady God’s ark by thinking, “God needs our help, God needs our wisdom, or God needs out input.” The resurrection of Jesus teaches us God does not need our help.