Friday, July 29, 2011

THE CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY

EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT forgiveness. Everybody asks God for mercy. Everybody wants to be forgiven of their sins and errors. Everybody wants to be cut some slack at one time or another. If something is desired by most everyone, than that thing most be very important.

When a Christian doesn’t forgive, he or she reverts to an unbeliever. Yes! Many Christians are not conscious of this truth.

The reason why you are a Christian is not because you do right things or because you are holy. You are a Christian because your sins are forgiven. Jesus said if you don’t forgive the sins of people against you, your Heavenly Father will also not forgive your sins. So, if your Heavenly Father does not forgive your sins, you become a sinner.

Since forgiveness is the bedrock of your Christianity, you can bet that some tinkering is going to happen with the right doctrines of forgiveness to confuse you and lead you into error.

What is forgiveness? It means not considering an act as an offense. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the offending act never happened. It means that the act is not considered an offense.

I am sure you have heard someone tell you to “forgive and forget”. That is not in the Bible. All God asks us to do is forgive. So many Christians tell you that they have forgiven their offender but they are finding it so difficult to forget. Why? Because they are torturing themselves trying to do what God never sent them to do. He only asked you to forgive and if you forgive properly, you don’t battle with forgetting. You just get on with your life.

I have found a most effective way of walking forever in forgiveness. Like most everything in our lives, it begins in the mind. If you know that you are going to eventually forgive someone anyway, why bother even taking offense and making yourself unhappy in the first place?

1. Realise that in dealing with human beings, people are going to upset you at some point. They are going to make honest mistakes and they are going to deliberately upset you. Every person you meet has the potential to do the worst possible thing to you.

2. You have done the worst possible thing to God. God forgave you, right? He even sent His only Son to die to save you even while you were yet committing offenses.

3. When Jesus took away the sins of the world – He took care of past, present, future sins all at once.

4. So, forgive like Jesus.
a. Don’t wait for people to offend you. Just create a forgiveness chest for everybody you know and will ever meet. Forgive them regardless, ahead of time so that when the offense happens you don’t even battle with pain and hurt. You have already forgiven.

b. People you are going to be dealing with on a long term basis like your spouse for example – package all possible offenses, all of it. Past, present, and future offenses you spouse could ever commit and forgive all.

c. Don’t wait for people to realize they have offended you and beg for forgiveness. Some don’t even know they have offended you. Some don’t have a conscience. Some don’t care how you feel about what they did. Some will even hurt you some more if they could. So, forgive.

This is the truth about forgiveness.

It’s ALL about YOU!
It has nothing to do with the other person, but everything to do with you. Accept responsibility for this. Full responsibility. A loser is one who shares responsibility for his life with others. To win in this game, know that it is all about you and nobody else.

Some people teach that when an offense keeps repeating itself, it becomes a habit. “It is no longer an error, but habit or way of life and has to be viewed differently.” they say. Forget those people. They want to take you to hell.

How Much is Enough?
The Bible does not say that an error has a limit for forgiveness. God commands that we FORGIVE ALL sins, ALL the time. Jesus Christ was asked how many times we should forgive our brother who offends us - he said 70 x 7 - which means uncountable times. In teaching us on how to pray, He said, “Father forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” How much mercy do you want from God? Give that same measure to others.

Who do I forgive? Everybody and everyone! Some people say that they can forgive a stranger who offends them, but a family member will remain unforgiven because the person shouldn’t have done what they did. E.g. Husband takes offense at his wife for weeks for not telling him she was going out, despite her pleas for forgiveness. Tension at home, a lot of unhappiness. Yet, the same man is able to easily forgive someone who carelessly bashed his car in traffic causing him delays, pain, and loss of money. Normal reasoning should be the other way round, don’t you think?

Forgiveness and Marriage No reason is strong enough for divorce. That’s the Word of God. Let’s get that out of the way.

But there are people who strongly believe that adultery of their spouse is a justification for divorce which means they have set limits to their forgiveness of their spouse. Some say, “I’ll forgive my wife of any offense but not adultery (or insult to my mother).”

It is not the offense of a spouse that leads to divorce. It is the decision of the offended spouse that leads to divorce. If the offended spouse decided to forgive - the marriage continues. If the offended spouse decided to forgive in perpetuity - then the marriage lasts forever. It's not sin that causes divorce. It is non-forgiveness that causes divorce. This principle is difference between Mrs. Bill Clinton and Mrs. Tiger Woods. One woman decided to forgive her husband in perpetuity and continue her marriage the other decided that her husband's offense is too much for her to bear and decided to end her marriage.

I know a denomination in Nigeria whose members are so stuck up on "holiness" and "sin" that one sin is enough reason to end an engagement. The offendinf fiancĂ© would be declared “unholy” and they start looking for a new "holy" person to marry. So many late marriages in that church, sisters can stay single till age 50. It is common to find people getting married in their 40s. And they happen to also have the highest divorce rate in the Body of Christ too. Because the discovery of one sin in the spouse is enough declare him or her an "unbeliever" and end the marriage. It is so sad, how the devil has blinded Christians to the truth and the power of forgiveness.

What makes a marriage work according to the Bible is not the errors that people make in it or how many times error occurs, what makes a marriage work is the attitude of the offended. If every time an offense is committed, it is forgiven then the marriage (or any relationship at all) survives offenses. The Bible teaches Christians to forgive, endure and apply patience and never to end a marriage. The world teaches to limit forgiveness to a certain measure and to end a marriage if the offending spouse does not change.

Conclusion

As children of God, we all live by grace. We are not Christians because we don’t commit sin, we are Christians because we are forgiven. Extend that same grace to everybody in your life. “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.” Jesus taught us forgiveness, turn the other cheek. He did not teach us slapping back and acting mean. Our Savior is not stupid or asking us to be stupid. He knows it all - the pain of seeking vengeance and the hurt that follows is even greater than the pain of the offense.

Pray for grace - the grace to stop taking offense at what people do or say to you. He is your Father, He loves you, He wants you to be happy and He will do everything He can to help you to be happy.



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(c) 2011, Aziza Uko. This work is the original work of the author and copyrighted. It may not be reproduced in part or in whole in any form without the permission of the author and proper acknowledgement.




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