I don't know how God talks to other people. I only know how he talks to me. Now, of course, imagining how God might talk to me, always sounds one way in my head - for example:
God: It's so nice to hear from you, what can I do for you, my dear?
Me: GOD! Did you see that driver? The one in the blue car? They cut me off!
God: I did see that! The nerve. It's a good thing I created you to be a perfect driver, make sure as you swerve around them and cut them off, then flip them off. It's ok - just this once - after all, as God, I give you permission to take down that complete moron driver, confront him! Don't let him think that you are going to be pushed around on these crazy roadways!
In reality, it usually sounds something more like this.
God: Yes? It's nice to talk to you today.
Me: Did you see that driver? The one in the blue car? They cut me off!!
God: I know, and I made you aware of them, you avoided them, you and your family are safe.
Me: But did you see that? I hate people who drive like idiots!
God: Do you remember driving to your sister's last week?
God: You cut off a man in a truck. Actually worse than what happened to you today.
Me: But the baby was screaming, and I was distracted...
God: I know, I kept him safe on that day from you. Drive carefully.
Ok, at this point you either think I am totally off my nut - or you have experienced these kinds of talks with God too. If you happen to think I am off my nut, that's ok - I'd be happy to listen to, and talk to you about my relationship with Jesus. If you also have had these talks - then you know what I mean.
Lately, though I've run into situations with individuals who think that they have been specifically given a WORD FROM GOD to go and knock (usually) someone who has offended them, over the head with what GOD has to say - and feel completely justified doing it, after all God told them too.
So, here's the thing. We, as Christians, are supposed to be doing things like "going into all the world" and sharing with others our personal relationship with Jesus. Instead we have taken it upon ourselves to hold onto offenses and then beat the holy snot out of these people who have offended us, by using God as an excuse to do the beating. Have we all gone out of our minds? I was listening to a challenging sermon lately that rang true with me. The pastor was talking about loving our enemies. He pointed out, that our enemies were NEVER found within the four walls of our church. NEVER. We have a mandate to love and forgive every person who claims the title "Christian". The instruction to love our enemies was intended to be focused outward on a hurting world that doesn't know the peace that comes from a relationship with Christ.
Honestly, hearing some recent stories of Christians full on attacking other Christians, makes me question my own desire to be a Christian. I can only imagine the impact it has on people who are watching Christians - and these are the people who NEED to be loved for Christ. Yet, we spend our time blasting one another.
Now, I'm not saying it's easy, and the hurts that some people bear can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. All of us Christians aren't perfect, we're on a walk, and sometimes that walk takes a lifetime, but I am starting to think that forgiveness is the key. Oh man - and it's HARD. When I have to forgive someone, at first it is like I want to rage and scream and tell the world how it's so unfair, but when I finally really do forgive...it gets a bit easier. So far, in this experiment I call life, I've noticed two things - not only does it get easier to forgive, but my litmus test for forgiving is that somehow I am able to forget. After a while, I will think of a person who offended me, and if I literally have a difficult time remembering what exactly they have done to offend me, then I know I must have forgiven them.
It's not usually up to us, people, to go tell other Christians where they have gone off the rails. God will tell them, and in the mean time, I can love them and pray for them - and often I will find something in me that makes me either ask for forgiveness, or pray to forgive.
Life really is better out here. More joyful, more peaceful, more exciting, more challenging, in a place where love and forgiveness walk hand in hand.
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