Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied. Isaiah 53:11
Look all around you. The world is made up of systems. In an effort to make life run smoothly, make order from chaos and make efficiency managable, people have created a network of systems. They may help to run a business but they are not designed to foster connection.
We’ve developed systems of behavior to serve as a framework for how we interact with others. What is acceptable, the consequences of not following the rules and how we navigate the relationship going forward are key elements of these systems.
It’s not that systems in and of themselves are bad.
We are just looking for them to fulfill something they are incapable of doing. In a marriage where “You cook…I clean,” the kitchen might be immaculate and our bellies well fed, but it doesn’t guarantee that the relationship will be fulfilling.
Just because our lives work, doesn’t mean we’re connected. Because things might be running smoothly or there haven’t been any disagreements, systems provide a mirage making it look like true connection. Yet, eventually the illusion wears off and we are left trying to figure out ways to mend the relationship.
Connection requires a relationship. Relationships need love. And for love to be felt we must make room for forgiveness. It is forgiveness that provides the only safe place for imperfect people to connect. Unlike our man-made systems, forgiveness is messy, difficult and requires work.
It also requires something to die.
Death is love demonstrated. God’s ultimate act of love was an act of giving himself away. Jesus came to do for us what we couldn’t do on our own. He entered into this world to bring us value and communicate our worth while reconciling us to God.
When we accept this grace, we take up a new residence. We reside in a state of forgiveness. We don’t have to work the system to arrive at the destination of forgiveness. We can invite others to join us in this place but we can’t force them to enter.
For many of us, the battle we face is extending that invitation of forgiveness. Instead we cover up the pain that we feel or attempt to lash out hoping for vengeance and vindication. When we mask over the hurt, we mask over the forgiveness.
Not acknowledging the pain doesn’t make it magically go away. We shouldn’t minimize the hurt. We need to feel it. If we don’t, we remain glued to the past. We hurt ourselves all over again forgetting the state of forgiveness in which we reside.
The choice is ours. We must choose whether we want to hold onto the past or move into a new future anchored in the forgiveness we’ve experienced. We get a say in how the story ends. At its essence forgiveness is “You don’t owe me.”
- What are some areas where you find your life works, but you aren’t connected with others? What do you believe is causing this disconnect?
- You get a say in how the story ends. Having been impacted by Christ’s love, how are you rewriting the story of your wounds?
God, I desire to leave the past in the past. But, this requires me to come face-to-face with the pain. Just saying those words makes me hesitate. Help me to trust that You will meet me there and remind me that I’ve been forgiven. Today, I will trust that my feet are firmly planted in Your grace and love. Only You are capable of healing my wounds and turning them into scars that will proclaim stories of healing. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.