Saturday, July 25, 2009

Forgiveness-Don't hold your breath

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6: 14-15

These words have always been tough for me to understand and tough to live. For years these words seemed to be at odds with God's grace. Not any more because I can now see through nature what Jesus meant.

By the way, anyone who thinks hearing the voice of Jesus and following it is easy is in for a surprise. Jesus asks for everything because He is everything. Resisting Jesus is like trying to resist nature. That is why nature does speak of Jesus.

One thing that nature demands of us is that we never hold our breath permanently. One thing Jesus asks of us is that we never hold our relational breath permanently. Here is what I mean.

To live as we were meant to live physically we need to breathe and never stop breathing. To make this constant activity work God has given us all a set of lungs and the physical mechanisms to take in and release air. God created nature in such a way that nature keeps continuously producing oxygen for us to breathe. This system depends on our participation in that we get to choose when to breathe in and when to breathe out. Bad things automatically happen if we make a choice to stop receiving or releasing air. So, how long can you function without receiving new air? How long can you hold your breath?

God created humans with the capacity to love and deliver grace into relationships. This was meant to be our nature. To God this releasing love and grace is more important than anything humans do. One of the things we need to receive and release in order to be alive spiritually is God's grace. We need to breath in the grace and love of God constantly and release it as grace and love to others. Humans were meant to be the source of God's grace and love on earth just like nature is the source of oxygen.

God is the source of grace and love that should flow through humans just like God is the creator of the oxygen that nature so generously releases . There is no shortage of oxygen--thank God! There is no shortage of grace and love in God's kingdom either and there can be no shortage of grace and love on earth if humans will receive it and release it as they were created to do. That is what "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" means.

If I insist on holding my last breath (oxygen), nature will not give me another breath. This is not punishment. This is the reality of the system that keeps me alive. We must release what we have received to receive what we need to keep living physically. We are oxygen dependent creatures moment by moment and forever.

In the same way spiritually, If I insist on holding the forgiveness and grace I am constantly receiving from God, then God will not give me more forgiveness and grace until I stop holding my spiritual breath. This is not punishment. This is the reality of the spiritual system that keeps me and every other human spiritually alive. We are love and grace dependent creatures moment by moment and forever.

Bad things happen to those who hold their breath in nature. They faint and then they breathe again. To voluntarilly hold our breath is not physically deadly for humans. God designed us to faint so we will breathe again. This, too, is grace.

Bad things happen to Christians who hold the breath of God's grace and love and fail to release it as forgiveness. They faint and then they breathe again. To fail to forgive is not eternally deadly for Christians. Not forgiving others will not stop God's love for us in Christ. Even so, God makes Christians who fail to forgive faint so they will breathe again. This is grace, too.

How long have you been holding your spiritual breath? How long can you remain truly alive spiritually while withholding forgiveness? Do you feel faint yet? That is God's grace coming to rescue you and help you breathe again.

Don't faint. When you fall you might hurt yourself or others. Release and Receive. Breathe!

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