First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Defaults and Afterthoughts?

January 10, 2017

Some days, we just need to breathe deeply and enjoy the small things; like a silly cat video on Youtube or this beauty. We have all charged our cats (dogs) at one time or another. Right?

If you are like me and tire of the daily anger, hate, and rhetoric being shot back and forth between those who disagree on just about everything, then this photo from Tumblr is for you. Can we all agree this cat is awesome and the picture brings a smile? I hope so or else I will stop writing my blog?  I'll have to unfriend you and we cannot be friends. Just kidding!  One has to have thick skin and a short earthly memory to survive in this world. Oh, and one needs to have a long eternal memory in understanding some of the most important tenets of Christian faith which are grace and forgiveness. 

    While a short earthly memory is essential, we need a long eternal memory. Wait, can we have both short term and long term memory? Yes, yes we can!  Every time I open my mouth to slander another person, I needed to be reminded how much God has forgiven me and how much grace is required for God to relent from giving me a 'Gibbs' head slap (eternal memory of God's goodness). God's grace and forgiveness for me supersedes God's need to punish me for sins committed. I get what I don't deserve so that God withholds what I do deserve. My sin demands punishment because I have done so against a holy God.  Through Christ, I am offered the gift of grace  and that because of faith and not my good works.

    Because God has redeemed us and offered grace and forgiveness, it is our lot in life to learn how to offer the same to those around us. We tend to prejudge each individual and determine whether they are worthy to receive our grace or our criticism. We sort of become God even though we have no business doing so...

    What would our community, state, country, or the world look like if we all operated under the premise of listen first and then speak?  What if when pushed to hurl vitriolic comments we instead reached out a hand of peace and acknowledge the other person? Dare I say, we would all die of heart attacks. We wouldn't know how to handle peace. Who would we bludgeon? How would we gain the upper hand? How could we win the argument, battle, and the war? We would be lost.

     "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

    Then again, God might tap us on the shoulder, whisper in our ear, and remind us of how much we have been forgiven. Ouch, that would drop our aggressions a notch or ten!!  In the vacuum of our aggressions toward another, God's sovereignty would shine into our dark hearts and restore order to our thoughts and motives. Forgiveness would become a default response rather than an afterthought. As we are spared in our offenses so we should spare those who offend us. Hmm, sounds vaguely familiar!

“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one.’"

(Matthew 6:9b-13, NIV)

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