A friend recently spoke with me about their efforts to be a disciple. “I agree that Christianity is the best way to live life. Thinking of the needs of others, being kind and compassionate, and many other sacrificial choices. What I struggle with is forgiving others. I have a hard time moving past the bitterness that crops up in me over injuries that are very painful.”
I appreciate and admire the candor. Christianity is not a life that can be lived piecemeal, obeying where you agree and disobeying where you struggle. The problem with a partial obedience is that it exposes our refusal to submit to the will of God. God’s sovereignty, being ruler of all of our life, is a basic principle for those who are a part of the kingdom of God.
Sometimes, for me, obedience is easier if I focus on why I am obeying. To forgive one who has horribly injured us, not based on their being entitled to forgiveness, but because of our debt toward God has helped me obey at times.
Ephesians 4:31-32 has been helpful to me. “Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred. Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.”
In the verse the goal of transformation appears to be clear. We are moving from a self-focused and self-absorbed life to a life of surrender, doing the hard thing for the better thing. I want to be like Jesus, it is what God called me to. I want to live a life that moves beyond the basics. I am called to something beyond seeing that I eat, sleep and am clothed.
Jesus demonstrated to us an elevated way of living. One of the most telling lines in Scripture is his statement, “Nevertheless, your will, not mine be done.” Surrender, to an event that his entire being sought to escape.
So in the worst of times, the most desperate of times, surrender and move forward. Be all God calls you to be.