I love it when the Holy Spirit blows me up. He keeps bringing revelation about love and forgiveness. At Yes and Amen the Lord called for us to fall in love with Him. How do we love Him more? At WGR class last Tuesday, we looked at the parable Jesus told about the two debtors.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. (Luke 7:41)
Jesus used this parable to challenge the hard-hearted homeowner who scorned the woman washing Jesus’s feet with her tears. The bottom line is he who has been forgiven much, loves much. Jesus directly equates our ability to love with our willingness to receive forgiveness from God. But there’s more.
Sunday morning, I was in a wad before church and journaled out some confusion and frustrations in relationships. The Lord spoke that forgiveness was the key. So I wrote out the names of the strained relationships and asked the Lord to bring forgiveness to bear in the hearts involved. Then, what was the topic at church on Sunday morning?
Yes, a message on forgiveness. There were new pieces revealed in this conversation with the Lord even as the pastor was speaking.
The pastor, Scott Hughes, taught out of Luke 9 where Jesus said that if we are to follow him, we must take up our cross daily. I began to groan under the hint of “work it up” theology, but Scott quickly commented how misunderstood this verse is. He broke down the meaning. The cross is a symbol of God’s love, the sacrifice of Jesus, the total forgiveness of our sin, but also the sin of every person in the world. The cross means I’m forgiven, but so is the person I have conflict with.
So when we take up our cross daily, we take up, we carry around with us, the weight, the meaning, the reality, of God’s love and his total forgiveness. We carry the cross so we think rightly about our relationship with God and our total acceptance by Him. But we also carry the cross as a reminder that the others in our lives, even the ones we want to punch in the face, are also dearly loved and forgiven by God.
Then the Lord added His beautiful touch of revelation and the pieces starting connecting together like magnets pulling pins together.
He brought back a memory from another sermon from a few Easter’s ago. Greg Pinkner had fish tank on the stage and illustrated the story of the ax head being raised up out of the river. He said it was a picture of the resurrection of Christ. Greg had a blooming dogwood branch in his hand. As as he taught — about things begin buried, out of reach, and should not be able to be raised up, things like an ax head, like our sin, like the crucified man named Jesus—he would push the dogwood branch down to the bottom of the water and hold it there.
But as he talked about the power of God, the power of His word, the heart of God to restore all things, Pinkner would release the branch and it would spring back to the surface of the water. The branch could not stay submerged. It had to come to the surface. He did this three or four times. By the third time, I wanted to stand up and yell HALLELUJAH!!! God has taken our sin and our separation and by His own Hand, He buried it in Jesus, once and for all. And then by His own mercy, He called Jesus back out of the grave and us with Him! Jesus could not stay in the grave!
So the cross isn’t just a sign of death. It is a sign of Life. New Life. Resurrected Life. When we pick up our cross daily we can take our offenses and hurts and “bury them” in the Cross of Jesus. He will bring new life where there was only death and separation before. And part of His new life, is an increased love for Him and for others because of this beautiful forgiven and resurrected life.
Oh the beauty of the Forgiving Father! The power of the Resurrected Christ! The promise of the Wonderful Counselor who leads us into increasing freedom with others, and from others.
Could we love others more if we forgave more? Could we love others more if we embraced how much we have been forgiven by God? May God grant us eyes to see and ears to hear all that He has in store for us through His love.