Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Extending the Love and Forgiveness of Jesus

by David Lemming

A young married couple was having a moment of “marital disagreement.” As the conversation continued between them, the husband became increasingly more agitated. In a moment of fury, he yelled at his wife and aimed his fist at a section of the dining room wall. Unfortunately, instead of his hand hitting between the studs, he hit a stud directly on and broke one of his knuckles.

When this happened, a deafening silence fell over the room. He had come from a family in which nothing ever got done apart from someone yelling, but his wife came from a family in which yelling brought things to a complete halt. In the moments immediately after, he thought that his wife probably wouldn’t speak to him for weeks, if ever. As he writhed in physical pain, his emotional pain was even worse. In those moments, he felt the weight of his failure as a husband.

As he tried awkwardly, with one hand, to sweep up the bits of sheetrock strewn on the floor, he suddenly felt a hand on his arm. He turned around and there was his wife. At that moment, she said something kind and gentle. He said something apologetic. She then embraced him for a long time until the tension in the room dissipated.
His wife had every right to pronounce a grand moral judgment, condemn his behavior, and distance herself from him. That surely would have taught him a lesson! But, instead, she reached out to her husband, and rather than teach him a lesson, she helped him to heal from his hurt, both physically and emotionally.

That’s an illustration of the love and compassion of Jesus Christ extended to all of us because of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In Jesus’ life, He identified with the sinful and spent time with the broken, so much so that people mistook Him to be one of them. He did not distance Himself from their (or our) sin but took it upon Himself on Calvary’s cross. And because He took the wrath we deserve, He made the redemption of our souls possible! Now we are reconciled to God through His death and resurrection!

When we were incensed and shaking our fists in His face, striking out at Him in anger, hate, and disbelief, He could have justly turned His back and walked away, leaving us to our own sinful demise. But, instead, He reached out and touched us with His marvelous grace and mercy so that we could find eternal healing for our broken and sinful souls!
I don’t know how you envision God or what images your past religious experiences left you with as to how God works in this world. Of one thing I am certain, none of us can fully grasp “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is,” because “it is too great to understand fully.” (cf. Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT)

When you want to see what real love looks like, you go to a hillside outside Jerusalem called Golgotha and look to the One taking on Himself the punishment we rightly deserve. He suffered in our place and for our faults so that He could give us what we do not rightly deserve...eternal life and the forgiveness from all the ugliness of our sinfulness!

This is the season to be reminded and to declare that God loves us all and has proven it in the most dramatic way possible. Paul wrote, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 NLT) Instead of striking back at us in anger, He reaches out to touch us with His love and pardon!

Let’s allow this love God has given to each of us to be the kind of love we extend to others. Now is the time to dial back the rhetoric and change our demeanor toward others. Let’s not get caught up in the angry outrage of the world around us that is striking out at people with whom they feel justified in showing their wrath. Let’s pray we can be like Jesus and look beyond the hurtful words and deeds while reaching out in kindness and compassion to bring reconciliation rather than further alienation and condemnation!

Easter is about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to us. Let’s extend that same love and forgiveness to others! (cf. Ephesians 4:32)
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