Friday, September 12, 2014

It may sound silly, but in the mornings I flip the laptop on and look at the postings on Pinterest.  I know, kind of crazy way to see God, right?  But something or someone always speaks to my heart.  This was the one today.  I hope you'll bear with me.  I'm going to step on some toes.  And I'm going to talk numbers.  And ultimately, we are going to talk about faith.

There are four parts to the prayer in the picture: (1) to have eyes to see the best in folks, (2) to have a heart that forgives the worst, (3) to have a mind that forgets the bad, and (4) to have a soul that never loses faith in God.

I think " have eyes that see the best in people..." is listed first for a reason.  In our world today it is impossible to avoid being bombarded by the worst.  We have 24/7 news that is giving us the terrible things that happen around the world.  We are told in our churches to avoid those who are different.  We are told by our commercials if we are not like those we see in them, we are to be shamed.  Think about how many times a day we are assaulted by the negative.

Now translate that into how we see other people; those created of God and in His image.  We cherry pick the Scriptures to pick out ways in which others don't meet standards of preconceived ideas of what a Christian is supposed to look like, be like, act like.  When we use those standards to judge (and yes, we judge) others, we see the worst.  Different races, skin colors, religions, politics.    There are so many ways we can tear each other down.  And in so doing, we actually tear down ourselves and the entire Body of Christ.

Yet, there are so many ways to see the best and encourage it in others. "Thank you for holding that door.  That was so sweet of you."  "Oh, you look so nice today. I love your shoes."  "Oh you really helped me by copying that memo for me.  Thank you."  There are a million ways you can bless someone.  Maybe a co-worker needs a new coffee cup for work and you quietly place one on their desk.  Or maybe you could bless your spouse with coffee in bed. (I see a coffee theme here.  Maybe I should bless myself with another cup!)  Maybe someone you know is having a difficult day.  Put a small bunch of wildflowers on their desk with a note that says, "hope this brings a little sunshine."   Have a gay friend?  Invite her to church and let her know you will be by her side.  I had a friend do that for me recently.  And I was doubly blessed! Get the idea?

When you bless others, you bless yourself.

"...a heart that forgives the worst..."  That's a little more difficult, isn't it?  First, let me say that forgiveness does NOT require an apology.  Forgiveness is about the forgiver, not the forgiven.  Forgiveness gives freedom. I've heard it said that not forgiving others is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Sounds extreme because it is.  I'm going to go out on a limb here.  I see the Old Testament (OT) as full of judgment.  I see the New Testament (NT) as full of love.  Had not God given us Jesus (NT), God's wrath would have continued (OT).

And how much are we to forgive?  Seven times?  No, seventy times seven.  (Matthew 18:22)  Let's look at the numbers.  Seven in the Bible is a number representing completion.  Our week has seven days.  The week is completed.  Ten is the number of the Law.  God gave ten commandments.  Okay, now let's play that out.  Seventy is ten sevens, right?  Therefore the Law was completed in forgiveness...the forgiveness of God.  Jesus filled all the requirements of the Law (OT).

Therefore, when we are called to forgive, we are called to act as Christ and forgive any and all transgressions.

"...a mind that forgets the bad..."   We've agreed to see the best in people and forgive them with our whole heart. Now, we come to forgetting the bad. Ouch. That hurts, doesn't it?  Forget?  I already had to forgive!  Isn't that enough?  God says it is not.  Psalm 103:12 says our transgressions are removed as far as the east is from the west.  If that was not so, would they be forgotten?  How in the world do we forget the bad?  Honestly,this is a work in progress for me.  I have been through some pretty difficult things.  I can't say I have accomplished the mind that forgets the bad.  Have I forgiven?  Yes, I believe I have in most cases.  There are a few that are more difficult to work through.

I believe my point here is that, as Paul says, (I Cor. 2:16) we have the "mind of Christ."  If that is so, then we have the capability in Christ to forgive and forget.  How many times have we heard that colloquialism?  Oh just forgive and forget!  It isn't easy!!!   But we must forget.  We must tap into that mind of Christ.  Every day I pray for a heart to forgive and the will to forget.  In essence, I am praying for the mind of Christ.  

Take a look at Philippians 2:1-8. (ESV - my favorite)

1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,a 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,b being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

I think those verses sum up the first three items on our prayer list.  Verse 2 says to be of the same mind of Christ; same love, in full fellowship with one another. Verse 3 says to not be selfish or conceited but humble.  Verse 4 says you are your brother's keeper, to keep that brother or sister in the best light. And verse 5 sums it up: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

Hear that last promise.  The mind of Christ is promised to us all.  And it is that mind that forgives, forgets, and sees the best in all.

That leads us to our last point, "...a soul that never loses faith in God..."  If we are living the Philippians 2 life, we will not lose faith in God.  We may lose faith in other people, but not in God.  Let me give you some background on this for me:

I came to Christ at 17 years of age, on my knees in my small bedroom, knowing that I needed a savior.  I was born into a non-practicing Christian family.  So my background was that of a Christian.  Not long after my "conversion" I found myself in deep trouble.  I had feelings from the time I was a child that I had no idea what to label.  I found myself dealing with what being "gay" meant.  I was shocked at myself.  I was clueless (a very immature kid).  My dad said it made him "sick."  My mom, who never cared for me, became even more open with her negative view of me.  My church, which I had just turned to for help, kicked me out.  Matter of fact, several churches (even though I never sought a relationship with anyone in the churches), kicked me to the curb.  I was forcibly exorcised, "layed hands" on, preached at, called before churches and deacon boards, etc.  You simply cannot imagine the horrible treatment I received at the hands of the church.  I tried to be what they wanted.  I really tried.  I could not.  And through it all I learned that God hated me, his people hated me, and there was no place for me in God's world.

It's been a long road to seeing that I was the victim of terrible folks doing terrible things in the name of God.  But I now see that they were NOT God.  God loves me. (John 3:16)   God accepts me.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139)  He knew me from the time I was in my mother's womb.  He knew.  He knew everything about me.  And GOD loved me.  The church may not, but GOD does.

If anyone has a reason to lose faith in God, I do.  Truly.  But God, in His loving way, brought people into my life who treated me like a "whosoever."  They admited they knew what they were taught, but in some ways cannot reconcile it with who they know God is.

I have worked though my life and understand what it means to have a soul that never loses faith in God.  And I pray, through God's love, I won't lose faith again.  What are your obstacles to keeping faith with/in God?  And how will you knock down those obstacles?  Do not lose faith in God.  He will provide a way you can accomplish the previous three prayers.

So we are full circle.  We commit to see the best in folks.  We commit to open our hearts to forgiveness.  We commit to the mind of Christ in forgiving others and we commit to never losing our faith in God.

Just for today, pray this prayer.  Just for today.  And tomorrow.  And the next day.

God's blessings,
TheLesRev - Cindi

1 comment:

Patti Bautista said...

Wow....Very thought provoking, thoughtful & true. Very well written. I love you sweetie.