Monthly archives: March, 2017

Love Always Forgives

Love Always forgives

The church our family attends has an amazing program after each Sunday morning service which children and their families are invited to attend together.  The idea is for parents to hear what the kids learned in class this week and talk through the central teaching – in a super creative, super fun environment.  Our kids absolutely love it. So does their dad!

 

Last week’s lesson was on the Lost Son. It’s the story in Luke 15 that Jesus tells of a rebellious young man who rudely asks his dad for his part of his inheritance (while his dad is still alive – not cool), then goes and wastes everything on big time partying, only to later come to his senses and return to his father, ready to beg for a job. Such audacity!  But before the son can even ask, the father offers him complete forgiveness.

 

If you’re still reading, I need you to pause. Go back and read that last line in the previous paragraph. Seriously. Ok, I’ll just restate it here for you…before the son can even ask, the father offers him complete forgiveness. What a statement! How amazing! But wait, here’s the thing…you may be nodding yes right now at how awesome it is, but never in the passage does it actually say that the father forgave his son. It’s true. Seriously. (Now you’re starting to wonder…is that really true? Go check it out, Luke 15:11:24. See, I told you…no mention of forgiveness anywhere.)

 

But we know he was forgiven, don’t we? So much so that we’ve always assumed it said so.  Why? Because the father doesn’t simply speak words of forgiveness, he demonstrates what forgiveness looks like.  And it’s remarkable:

 

  • The father waits and watches for his sons return
  • As fast as his ol’ legs can move, he runs toward his son the moment he sees him
  • He offers his selfish, filthy, rebellious son a huge embrace. And a kiss. And a coat. And ring. And shoes. (wait…who was the one that was in the wrong in this story?!)
  • The father changes the plans that day for EVERYONE, joyfully announcing a celebration of his returned son.

 

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that one attribute of love is that it “keeps no record of wrongs”.  That when we love others the way God wants us to love, we’re too busy loving the one who misses the mark to even keep track of where the mark has been missed. We’re not just saying we forgive, we’re demonstrating it.

 

Back to the post-service children’s program last weekend after church.  After the team finished acting out the story of the Lost Son (which, my goodness are they creative), families were given a couple of minutes to huddle and discuss a question together: “when have you needed to forgive someone else?” Great question! Quickly my mind started running through a list of people I’ve needed to forgive and how I was so kind to forgive them and which example will be safe for me to share with my kids and….hang on….wait a second….Garrett is just sitting there. And he has an odd look on his face…

 

“What are you thinking about, buddy?”

 

With a sheepish chuckle, “Oh, I’m thinking of all the times I’ve needed to ask forgiveness of others.”

 

Oh, man.

 

My nine year old, helping his dad understand the correct answer.

 

We do well when our heart posture is one where we truly recognize the long list of ways that we have been so graciously forgiven, over and over, by God and others.  When this happens, it becomes pretty easy to shred up our lists of “how I’ve been wrong”, instead choosing to freely demonstrate love through forgiveness.

 

Just like the father. And the Father.


The Act Of Selflessness

 

43619124 - all the love given to child - love heart in hand

Have you looked up the definition of selfish recently? It’s really pretty ugly. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, selfish literally means: “being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” Yikes.

 

I would bet there are very few people in the world that start off their day with being selfish on the top of their agenda. But it’s so easy to do. It’s so easy to drift there.

 

As we are entering this season of Lent, what if we took it as an opportunity to CREATE SPACE? Space that reorients our hearts to move away from a focus on ourselves, to a focus on God, as well as those around us. What if we stepped back and took I Corinthians 13 to heart when it tells us that, “Love is not self-seeking”. What if we really lived that demand?

 

Isaiah 58:6-7 reminds us of the importance of having a time of focused reorientation, moving from selfishness to selflessness.

Is not this kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

And, look at how God responds to this posture of selflessness!

(v. 8) Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”

 

Light, healing, righteousness? Sounds a lot better than being a person with a “disregard for others.”

 

Theologian Thomas Merton lamented what he called our “frenzied pace of life fueled by the passion of a need to accumulate and accomplish.” I suppose there are occasions where motives to accumulate and accomplish can be good, but let’s be honest: more often than not they are seeded in selfishness.

 

So how can you and I create space that will help us move from being selfish to selfless? Glad you asked! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Time. Just make yourself available…buy someone a coffee and just listen. Anyone can do that. Will you this week?

Resources. What if you intentionally pray that God would reveal one person that you can love through meeting a specific need?

House/hospitality. What if you looked at your calendar and purposefully took the time to plan a night (on your overscheduled, kid activity laced calendar) to create space in your home to invite people in?

Lent is an invitation to slow down, create space and allow our hearts to open in love, both to God himself and to those he created.

 

Don’t miss this season.  Take a breath and pause. Challenge yourself to take a step toward God and others.