Continue reading “Day 43: Self-Control”
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.James 4:7
Crucifixion was the best thing that could have happened to him.
No, I’m not talking about Jesus. I’m talking about the repentant thief next to Him on the cross. Presumably, he’d led a pretty miserable life, resorting to criminal activities that gained for him the death penalty. As he woke up that morning, he was probably looking back upon his life with bitterness and regret, knowing he had wasted his potential and squandered his talents. What he didn’t see coming was an encounter with a man who would alter the course of his eternity.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
This C.S. Lewis quote is beautiful and true, but so very difficult to put into practice, isn’t it? Forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity, and Jesus Himself provides the best example for us. As we enter into Holy Week, it’s appropriate to take some time to look at the words of Jesus from the cross, so I’ve updated some blog posts I wrote a number of years ago when we did the seven words from the cross for our Lenten series. Fittingly, Jesus’ first words from the cross are ones of forgiveness.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.Continue reading “Forgiving the Unforgivable”
This weekend I watched the movie Silence. It takes place in 17th-century Japan, when there was heavy persecution of Christians. The story follows two Jesuit priests who are seeking their mentor, who has reportedly committed apostasy and denied the faith. It is an intense movie, and disturbing on many levels. I was drawn into the conflict the characters faced, wondering how I would respond under similar circumstances. Many were strong even in the face of death. But there is one character in particular whose weakness was all too apparent, to the point that I got irritated with him. It was difficult to tell whether he was sincere or not, as he repeated the same mistake over and over. At one point, the priest asks himself, “How can Jesus love such a wretch as this man?”
I broke my New Year’s resolution on January 2. It was my daughter’s birthday, and with everything else going on that day, I just didn’t in get the 30 minutes of decluttering that I’d vowed to do each day. Understandable, sure, but what a downer all the same. I didn’t even make it two days into the new year before I broke my resolution. So much for a fresh start.
The story of the Israelites and the Golden Calf is a ridiculous one, isn’t it? C’mon, people. Just a few weeks after God performed ten miraculous plagues, led you through the Red Sea on dry ground but drowned Pharaoh’s army after you, and fed you with manna and quail, you forget all this and make an idol to worship? After all God has done for you, this is your response? It’s laughable, really. This golden calf that Aaron made in front of your eyes is the one who led you out of Egypt? Lame. And yet, all too familiar. Because we are no different today.
It plays out like a scene from The Godfather. The aged king is passing along final instructions to the son who is to succeed him on the throne. He starts off well, admonishing him to be God-fearing and of noble character. So far, so good. But then he gets personal. He instructs his son to “deal wisely” with two specific men who had wronged him. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to know what the king means. “Do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace,” the king says of both men. In other words, kill these guys. These are the king’s final words, and then he dies. It’s the stuff of movies. Cue the climactic music. Get one last close-up of the characters in this scene, who are none other than King David and his son Solomon.
My socks told the story. The bottoms were more brown than white, with black specks and crumbs peppered generously all over. They were rather disgusting. So I knew it was time to steam mop. Again. I pulled out the mop and worked my way through all the tiled sections of our house, which is everything but the bedrooms. I felt a great sense of accomplishment, but then realized I was still wearing my dirty socks. Well, that wouldn’t do. I went to my room and opened my dresser to pull out another pair, and I hesitated. I had a couple pairs of brand-new socks, never worn. But did I really want to wear those? Any dirt left would certainly show up on those. Frankly, I didn’t want to know if the floors weren’t completely clean after all that effort. So I reached instead for a pair I’ve had for a while. Clean, but slightly discolored on the bottom. It would be better not to know.