With Easter quickly approaching, I’m constantly being reminded of Christ’s boundless, merciful love and forgiveness. His ability to love me (especially) when I’m insufferable has always been one of those things that make me especially thankful for His grace. I love Him.
Dealing with this idea of “unconditional love” and “unconditional forgiveness” begins to stop me in my tracks, however, when I remember that I was created and given this unconditional grace in order to extend it outward to those around me – to the unbelievers to lead them to the unconditional grace I get to experience and to believers who may be acting just the tiniest bit insufferable.
I think it’s easy to say that there is not one person who has ever walked the planet that did not hurt another person – that hasn’t let another human being down or disappointed someone in their path (okay, excluding Jesus, obviously). You’ve done it, I’ve done it and it’s inevitable. I’ve been let down and I’ve been a let down – it’s an issue of being human.
But what do you do when someone has become such a let down that the sight of them causes physical, gut wrenching pain? That pain that makes your stomach twist, that makes your thoughts swirl, that makes you feel so angry, or disappointed, or destroyed that you feel helpless.
What do you do when someone says something so horrible or does something so painfully unbelievable that you drown yourself in your own thoughts of what you could’ve said and should’ve done?
Let’s pause that question for a hot second and take a step back. Think with me back to Jesus at the last supper table. He’s breaking bread, He’s hanging out with His disciples – and He knows a secret. He knows that someone who walked with Him and preached the gospel with Him, a friend, has betrayed Him in the most unbelievable way. Judas, one of the twelve chosen friends of Jesus willingly went to a group of priests with the intent of betraying the Messiah – someone who loved him so unconditionally and showed him the truth of His love.
Jesus knew that He’d been betrayed. And yet, He continued to break bread with and pass the cup to His betrayer.
Then, the day He was crucified, after being handed over by His own friend to His accusers, He hung on a cross, asking God the Father to forgive every one of His betrayers. He just willingly forgave.
Now, I’m not saying that anything I or you have experienced can compare to being betrayed by your friend and being hung up on a cross as the result – but I know that sometimes it feels like it.
And similarly, you’ve given those feelings to someone too! You’ve been the “betrayer”, whether it’s easy to recognize or not.
So what do you do with all this random information I’ve thrown at you? You apply it.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
Be long suffering.
Be like a trampoline rather than a brick wall. When someone crashes into you, receive them with grace and then help them bounce back up. Stand them up on their feet. Don’t let this instance of their failure define them. Don’t allow them to crash into your hardness of heart because, let me tell ya, it’s a whole lot more difficult to repair a person after they’ve hopelessly shattered.
If you can’t be defined as your failures or your past because of the redemption of the blood, why would you allow yourself to define another person by his failure? Love people in the place that you want them to be – love them as a child of God, cleansed by the precious blood of the unconditionally forgiving Lamb of God.
Wouldn’t you want the same?